By Mason Poepperling
Staff writer

While there are many amazing aspects of watching sports, some prefer the excitement provided by the band playing between plays.

Hearing true classics in the style of a brass band is unlike anything else, and it would all fall apart without one crucial part – the drummer. For Hutchinson Community College, that drummer is Cooper Koestel.

Hailing from Hutchinson, Koestel took inspiration from many great drummers of the past.

“I’m a big fan of John Bonham. He’s the drummer for Led Zeppelin. I like Mike Portnoy, the drummer from Dream Theater. Those are my two major influences right there,” Koestel said.

Of course, drumming for the HutchCC pep band is an experience unlike any other. Koestel recalls how he began drumming for the band and the challenges that came with it.

“I originally got a scholarship from Chris Merchant back when he had the director of bands job here,” Koestel said. “In my previous high school, we did a lot of rock and we didn’t do that much swing or jazz, so I came in and I heard we were doing ‘Friend Like Me’, or we’re doing ‘Sing Sing Sing’, or we’re doing ‘Wizard Wheezes’ and those are all jazz tunes. It was all new to me. It was a fun surprise but definitely a surprise for sure.”

When it comes to the songs he likes to play the most, however, Koestel tends to lean towards the faster, hard-rock sounding tunes. One of his particular favorites happens to be a little known German one-hit wonder from 1983.

“It’s actually a rock tune, it’s called ‘99 Red Balloons’, and I like it because it goes from a standard rock beat to this very quick double time feel, so it’s a lot of fun with a lot of changes,” Koestel said. “As far as jazz, I like ‘Wizard Wheezes’ quite a bit.”

Of course, not every song the band plays is a walk in the park. Despite being in the pep band for a while, Koestel can still recognize a challenge when it presents itself, particularly when it comes to a song from a well known stage-play-turned-movie.

“We don’t really play it too often, but ‘In The Heights’ is a tough one,” Koestel said. “It has a very Latin groove that’s a lot of fun but also very difficult. We’ve only played it once at a game but that’s the hardest one for sure.”

It’s hard to deny Cooper Koestel’s importance to the HutchCC pep band and the role he plays in keeping time with them.

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