CORNING, N.Y. (WENY) - At Corning-Painted Post home varsity boys and girls basketball games as well as Unified games in May, you will see a special layer to the environment that not many student-athletes, coaches, and spectators around the area get to experience - the Corning Pep Band.

Michael Simons, who played for the marching band and Big Red Pep Band at Indiana University in the late 90s when Bobby Knight coached the Hoosiers, founded the pep band at Corning West in 2003 with 22 students. Simons told WENY that he wanted to bring something special like that college atmosphere to Corning. They are now in their 18th year with a one-year break due to COVID.

The band is co-directed by Simons and music teacher, Donny Allen. In addition to performing at Corning basketball games, the Pep Band has played at First Arena and Elmira College hockey games for more than 10 years and played at the Elmira Pioneers home opener last June.

This is an ensemble that students at Corning look forward to being a part of and creating a unique experience for everyone.

"I think that the athletes get hyped up when we're there because you don't always have a live band playing at your sports games and I just think it's really cool to be able to play for them," said senior flautist, Hannah Joslyn.

"I enjoy the people who come to the games we can hype up and we can involve in this experience as well," said sophomore tenor saxophone player, Wyatt Landolf.

As the Corning basketball teams continue to compete, they are always eager to play in front of the pep band which can provide an additional home-court advantage.

"It's a great experience for these kids, it's almost like a college atmosphere," said Corning girls basketball Head Coach, Jamie Nichols. "I think the people that are here are more energized by the band and the kids look forward to them being here."

"I think we're very fortunate to have the pep band here because nobody else around us has the pep band and it brings the energy for us" added junior guard, Hannah Nichols. "I think we play way better at home than on the road."

"The unique thing is that other schools and coaches love coming to play here" said Corning boys basketball Head Coach, Mike Johnston. "They really get into the game right from warm-ups to breaks in the action to halftime and I know our kids really like it and it's great for our culture here at Corning."

"It's really special, they offer a lot of momentum and it's just a cool, unique experience to have in your home gym" added senior guard Jackson Casey.

Members of the pep band hope the ensemble continues to grow in the coming years, and they doing what they love, but also supporting their school athletics.

"I think it's cool to be a part of this because I get to do what I want and not have to feel nervous about it because everything I do I believe my impact makes others happy as well," said Landolf.

"I just like the atmosphere as a whole," said Joslyn. "Everyone there gets along super well and we're all there just to support our school and our team."