When you spend all your classroom days buried in textbooks and doing homework, it’s good to have an outlet to unwind with friends. For Sarah McKellick, that means picking up her alto sax and marching across campus to rock out at a football game with one of the hottest spirit groups on campus, URI’s marching band.
No matter who you are, our color is Keaney Blue, and what we all have in common is that we want to create excitement and give our teams the best home court and field advantages possible.
Known to insiders as the “Pride of New England, That Ram Band,” the band makes big noise and inspires spirit all across campus. But among their 115 members, not everyone is a maestro, or even interested in a music career – and that’s just fine. All skill levels need apply. “Play an instrument, swing a flag, strike a bell. If you want to be involved, we want you to be involved,” said Band Director Brian Cardany, who also leads the Pep Band that wows crowds from the stands at URI basketball games in the winter.
That inclusiveness is what makes the band – both of them – charming. Members come from all walks of life and are pursuing different passions at URI. Some are majoring in journalism, others in pharmacy. Some play sports, others are into theatre. Some eat their veggies, others don’t.
Sarah’s majoring in chemical engineering, but her childhood dream was to play in a college marching band. URI became her first choice when Cardany said “sure, sure, of course” she could play in the band without being a music major. “It’s a great way to show my school spirit. I get to yell and cheer and be loud and crazy,” she said.
It’s also a great way to meet people you might not meet otherwise – especially during freshman year when the college scene can seem daunting. On her first day four years ago, Sarah hooked up with fellow musicians who are among her best buds today. “We are like a family – a cross section of our a student body, and a tight group of people who take care of each other. It’s pretty special,” Cardany said.
Same goes for The Mob, a lively group of 250 Rhody fans who paint their faces blue and white and turn the Ryan Center and Meade Stadium into giant pep rallies – no music involved. The group’s spirit mission attracts a healthy representation of the URI community. Nickietha Phinn is Jamaican, and as the group’s secretary, she’s always meeting and greeting new members. “You don’t have to be any specific ethnicity or sexual orientation to show that you love URI. Our friends represent ethnicities from Hispanic to Nigerian, we have exchange students from France and Germany – literally anyone can join the Mob.” The only requirement is a healthy dose of school spirit and hardy vocal muscles: “Go Rhode Island, U-R-I!”
Mob leader and marketing major Derrick Light said he’s met about half of his URI friends through the group. “No matter who you are, our color is Keaney Blue, and what we all have in common is that we want to create excitement and give our teams the best home court and field advantages possible.”
If you’re considering URI, Nickietha says, “Join the Mob! Definitely! You will meet lots of people and you are guaranteed to make at least one friend!”