Basketball: The first game played back in December of 1981, final score… 1-0. Sounds strange, doesn’t it? But we must think much more simply in retrospect. That isn’t exactly easy to do, today…. not with the production it’s all become; the band, the music, the cheerleaders, the in-game promotions, the number of people who work behind the scenes and how we plan our days, our holidays and or our lives around it, especially for those who work in it. As a huge fan of the game and its international impact, I look around at every one of those who put on this show for the game’s fans.
126 years of people who have influenced and improved the game… programs have become historic and people have left their marks. I understand it to be something much bigger than just the final stat lines or wins and loss columns.
Louisville: Media may already bring you everything on the players and coaches. I want to share with you the other people who make this place what it is and will be. This is the People of the Ville…
Al Greener, pep band director
Creator of Louisville fight song, “All Hail, UofL”
Are you from Louisville?
No I’m from Iowa originally, a University of Iowa graduate, I’ve been here off and on for about 30 years. I was here then went back to teach high school in Iowa. Every time I was in Louisville it was with UofL as a graduate assistant band instructor.
In total how many years have you been here?
I’ve been here 20 years. If I could start all over and do it again, I would do that, absolutely. It’s just been that great.
Were you recruited? How did that come about?
My college roommate from Iowa was marching band director 1987 so I came here as grad assistant.
What are gamedays like for you? Do you have an office job during the day?
More or less, yeah. We play between 110-140 performances per year so were out every or every other day basically I have a helper/assistant, and he helps me complete all of office work during the day so we can pull off that many performances a year. Its busy and a pain in the neck but it’s a good pain in the neck.
Do you recruit?
Yes and no. we get most of our members because we set up a booth at orientation so people walk by and see us and if they’re interested in band they just sign up.
Lot of younger people? Do the majority stay whole career at UofL?
Yeah it depends. A lot depends on what their major is, the older they get the busier they get and for some, its vice versa. We have a great retention rate. There’s plenty of perks like travel so it’s a good situation for students.
So how many people do you deal with?
We rotate about 100 people, so they don’t have to be at everything. This time of the year we’re smaller because of Christmas break and finals, we will be full strength when school starts again in January.
But you’re here every night, what kind of prep do you do for this?
When you get as old as me, I just think to myself, it’s not my first rodeo. The good part is you get to see a lot of people, meet a lot of people who tell you they like what you do. The marketing staff here is great, its fun to be around them, it keeps ya young!
Do you alone decide playlists?
We take requests from students and marketing people, what usually happens… we listen to a tune if it relays over well to a band playing it, for instance, hip hop does not. We listen then we send in for copy-write clearance. 6, 7, or 8 people go through it to decide what gets played.
Do you study band trends?
Oh absolutely, not necessarily band stuff but I listen to Kiss FM as far as new stuff but I like old 70s and 80s rock too which works well with the women’s crowd but as far as young crowd I stay current by listening to Sirius radio.
How do you get the band to get ready on gamedays?
A lot of it is to just show up, we play so much that a week or so with 3 or 4 performances we probably only practice 3 or 4 times a semester but we play so much that the players get so used to this stuff. The practices are more informational, “okay whats coming up, travel info”. Just show up.
Do you travel with every team?
Mostly both basketballs and volleyball. A lot depends on how far the destination and how far they’re projected to go in the post season. All conference and NCAA stuff for basketball. If other stuff arises we will evaluate as it comes about.
Do you have a budget to deal with?
Oh yeah. We have our own budget and once the NCAA tournament starts, its paid for by NCAA.
I’ve seen bands who can take taunting pretty far, what are your thoughts on taunting and how Louisville will receive it continually?
We taunt but we keep it very clean. Tonight, we will do Christmas Carols while the other team is at the free throw line. You pick up things from other bands but you have to keep it clean. I don’t let the band wave their arms during free throws… I believe a person can either shoot free throws or they can’t, it doesn’t matter what the band does, if they wanna yell that’s fine. We treat people how we would want to be treated on the road. To me, that’s sportsmanship… which can go a long way.
What is your favorite memory so far?
The first week in April 2013, when we won the whole thing. Also the women’s final fours. College world series. The best thing is that we excel in everything here and that’s what makes it so special. Its wonderful.. the fan support, the facilities. There’s no hotter place in the whole country than here.
How did you do that? Men’s games and women’s games?
We had about 10 people who did both going back from Atlanta to New Orleans. Driving. It was tiring but at the same time we’ve got to be one of the only bands that’s ever done that, it was historic. When we got back, I slept for a week. They had to study. Heh
I appreciate and admire all of Al’s work and influence on this program and its history. You’ll hear him before you see him as he leads the pep band on Louisville’s sidelines. And perhaps some of my favorite realizations was a 3-2 count continuously fouled off and Al played BeeGee’s Stayin’ Alive over the intercom organ at Jim Patterson Stadium. Here’s to another great season for mens and womens teams coming up on the New Year and another campaign in ACC Conference play. Dilly Dilly.
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