FGCU band, cheerleaders making the trip to NCAA tournament

Lexey Swall/Staff
Alto saxophonist Ken Carter and the rest of the Florida Gulf Coast University basketball band play before the women's quarterfinal basketball game against East Tennessee State at the Atlantic Sun tournament Wednesday, February 29, 2012 at Mercer University in Macon, Ga. FGCU beat ETSU 79-63. FGCU beat ETSU 79-63.

Photo by LEXEY SWALL // Buy this photo

Lexey Swall/Staff Alto saxophonist Ken Carter and the rest of the Florida Gulf Coast University basketball band play before the women's quarterfinal basketball game against East Tennessee State at the Atlantic Sun tournament Wednesday, February 29, 2012 at Mercer University in Macon, Ga. FGCU beat ETSU 79-63. FGCU beat ETSU 79-63.

When the Florida Gulf Coast University men’s basketball team faces Georgetown on Friday in its first NCAA tournament appearance, it won’t be representing the school alone.

Members of the university’s band will be there, too, helping boost school spirit. Twenty-six of the 55 students in the band are flying to Philadelphia Wednesday morning, director Troy Jones said.

“No one can really replace what the band does at the games,” he said. “We’ve heard many compliments and comments from the fans about how the game is just not the same without the band being there.”

Jones said 12 cheerleaders and the Eagle mascot will also be in Philadelphia, helping round out the school spirit squad.

The band is expected to board a bus at 6:45 a.m. Wednesday and head to Southwest Florida International Airport to catch a 9 a.m. flight. It will play during Friday’s game, which starts at 6:50 p.m.

Jones estimated the trip would cost about $10,000 or more, including air fare, hotel and food. Some of the costs are typically absorbed by the NCAA, he said.

Jones said the band is looking forward playing a role in the game, especially because this is FGCU’s first time in the tournament.

“We’re very excited just to be able to be a part of something that’s so historic,” he said.

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