Strike up the band!

Rockin’ Redwings keep fans movin’ and dancin’

The official soundtrack of high school football in Hoboken is played by the Rockin’ Redwings – a group of approximately 40 students who every week don their uniforms and take the field to lead the chants and cheers of those in the stands.
Teacher Gary Enrico has directed the band for the past 30 years.
The Rockin’ Redwings accepts students from throughout the district, compared to many other schools who just accept high school students.
“Somebody said to us at a game once, ‘Hey you guys are pretty small for freshmen,’ ” said Catherine Sander, an eighth grader who plays the clarinet. “But we were only in seventh grade at that time.”
Still, the members of the Rockin’ Redwings believe the band is able to contend with the competition.
Enrico chooses a majority of the songs, but the band members say they still have a role in the selection process.

‘If no one likes the songs, we won’t play them.’ – Catherine Sander, band member
“If no one likes the songs, we won’t play them,” Sander said, evoking laughter from her fellow band members.
“The songs are hard at first, but they’re good songs for us,” said Ray Post, who plays the trombone. “They have a good sound to them.”
Jacob Faura plays in the band, and said he also has had the opportunity to help select, or at least eliminate, some songs from the band’s playlist.
The popularity of high school music has spread due to television shows like Glee, but when asked if they watch the show, a group of students shook their heads and laughed, saying no.
“Sometimes I’ll watch other marching bands on YouTube to see how they perform songs,” Faura said.

A week in the band

The band rehearses every Friday, preparing for football games that night. Sometimes, the students need to miss class periods, but they don’t get to skip the work.
“The teachers give us the work from the class we missed, and we have to make it up on our own,” said Jennifer Tu, who plays the clarinet.
After practices on Friday, the band members have to return to school at 5:30 p.m., in uniform, ready to hit the field with the football team for the evening game.
The cheerleaders and the band seem to get along just fine.
“They do dance moves to our songs,” said John Fitzgerald, an eighth grader.
As far as the championship football team and the band: “We’re pretty well separated from the team,” Sander said, adding that the groups don’t often mix.

Other events

When football season ends, the band keeps playing in events such as concerts and parades.
“I like to go to the Memorial Day parade in Hoboken because you get to see the other bands and the way they perform,” Fitzgerald said.
While some members of the band have played for a long time, others join for different reasons.
Wesley Repass plays the drums. “I wanted to join the band when I saw a ‘Drumstick It Up’ concert at the high school auditorium about four or five years ago,” Repass said.
Others just seem to have the natural talent to contribute.
“Everyone thought I was really good at the recorder, so I decided to join the band,” said Ricardo Fresse, who plays the clarinet. Each student learns the recorder in fourth grade. “Also, I really like to go to high school football games.”
Arturo Liranzo plays the bass drum, and he decided to join the band partly because many of his friends were involved.
“I already played the guitar, and I thought it would be fun to learn something different,” Liranzo said.
Angel Molina plays the trumpet, and he also joined because he wanted to try something new.
Many of the members of the band want to continue to play after they get into high school, but historically, the rates of participation drop once students reach their freshman year.
“Things get busy in high school,” Sander said.
Fitzgerald said that in high school, students start to play sports instead of staying with other clubs.

Minor league

The band also performs at special events such as the Sept. 11 ceremonies in Hoboken; they performed in Sinatra Park as part of the summer concert series, and they also hold an annual Christmas Concert that one teacher raved about (granted, she was sitting next to Enrico, the band’s director).
Enrico said that the number of participants dropped a few years ago when art and music teachers were laid off due to budget cuts. However, the district has started somewhat of a minor league system for the band, offering students in the younger grades an opportunity to join the Rockin’ Redwings. The district started a “Blue Band” for younger students.
“We try to keep the young players together so they continue to play as they get older,” Enrico said.
“We played a lot of easier songs,” said Fitzgerald, who played in the Blue Band when he was in the fifth grade.
The Hoboken High School football team’s next home game is Oct. 21 versus St. Anthony High School of Jersey City. The Rockin’ Redwings will provide the entertainment.
Ray Smith may be reached at

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