The band was hot, even when football was not

Jeff Alton, K-State alum, directs The Pride Of Wildcat Land for “The Band Is Hot” in Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Sept. 16, 2016. (Austin Fuller | The Collegian)

“Stay for the band,” roared fans in the student section just before Kansas State closed the first half with a score of 42-0. “Don’t leave, stay for the band” they continued to chant as people were preparing to leave before the halftime show.

After the halftime show, though, was a special edition of a band tradition, but performed with less fanfare.

Just as the third quarter came to an end, the Pride of Wildcat Land played one of its signature cheers, “The Band is Hot.” But this time, it was to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the cheer, and it was conducted by Jeff Alton, the writer of the cheer and a former bass drum player in the K-State marching band.

“I actually wrote lots of cheers for our band,” Alton said. “Some stuck for a little while, some did not stick at all. And out of all the cheers I wrote, I never would have thought in a million years that this would have been the cheer to stick for 30 years now.”

Alton was a student at K-State and a member of the band during “some of the rough years of K-State football,” he said. The years 1982-1986, the years Alton was in the marching band, are known as some of the worst years in K-State football history.

“We did not see a lot of wins during my time here, and I did not want the band to lose spirit,” Alton said. “That was when I thought it would be cool to do a cheer for the band.”

It was exciting to have a song that brought the spirit of the band up, Alton said. But after graduating, he began to lose touch with the band.

“This song was here a lot longer than I have been here,” Frank Tracz, director of the band, said.

And it was not until 10 years ago, Alton said, when the memories of the band and his cheer came flooding back.

“I was at Arrowhead Stadium, and Iowa State football was playing,” Alton said. “And as I was walking I heard (“The Band is Hot”) playing from a bus. It was unbelievable to hear that, and I had to go talk to the driver. It turned out they were playing a K-State CD, and my cheer was one of the songs on it.”

It was shocking, Alton said, to know his song had really caught on and stuck. Since then, Alton has also heard his cheer being played by a high school band in Kansas City.

“I think this song proves just how great the band is, and how well they support one another,” Alton said. “They are all really great kids. Amongst them will be doctors and teachers and who knows what else. But the opposites attract. It’s just a band thing.”

Alton met his wife while playing in the K-State band, and now their daughter is an assistant drum major of the band.

“We probably would not have met if we were not both in band,” Alton said. “It’s really special. We got married in 1990, and now our daughter, Natalie, is one of the drum majors.”

Natalie Alton, junior in elementary education and assistant drum major, said it was the opportunity of a lifetime to conduct “The Band is Hot” right next to her dad.

“It was so fun,” Natalie said. “But in one other word it was memorable. Having two members from the same family and two different band eras playing together is really special.”

Hi, I'm Kaitlyn Alanis, former news editor for the Collegian and a May 2017 graduate in agricultural communications and journalism. I have never tried a hamburger and I hate the taste of coffee, but I love writing stories and sharing what I learn with our readers. By writing for the Collegian, I can now not only sing along when the K-State Band plays "The Band is Hot," but I also know that most agriculture students did not grow up on a farm, how to use an AED to save someone's life and why there is a bust of MLK Jr. outside of Ahearn Field House. Thanks for reading!