In 1992, the marching band turned into a pep band becoming the Crusader Band under the direction of Tom Heaney. Todd Caffee took over directing upon Tom’s graduation. They performed at a bonfire/pep rally on the Friday evening of Homecoming despite severe thunderstorms and a tornado warning. That year, the band lost two seniors: Rob Christie (Music) & Christopher Wennerstrom (Physics).
1993 was a rough year for the Crusader Band. With only 8-10 members, they played for home basketball games and drove themselves whenever travel was necessary, to accompany the team. Controversy was sparked when the band was replaced by an area high school band for Homecoming and two other home football games. In 1994, the Pep Band made a trip to the NCAA with the basketball team.
In 1995, the Pep Band performed for half time at home basketball games. The band made a trip to Phoenix, AZ with the basketball team for the NCAA tournament. Coach Bryce Drew bought the whole band ice cream on that trip, & the band kept getting interveiwed by reporters because everyone was rooting for Valpo to upset #1 Arizona. (they did not)
The Crusader Pep Band came back to life in 1997 under the direction of seniors Jonathan & Peter DeMik. The band played at home football games and basketball games (both men’s and women’s). The became officially recognized as a student organization allowing them to receive money from student senate. They used that money to purchase badly needed new equipment and instrument cases. That year, membership increased from 20 to more than 70. The Athletic Department purchased uniform shirts for the band to wear. Other graduating seniors that year included: Mark Earnest, Brent Klettke, Rich Kordus, Nathan Pera, Steve Rehlander, & Andrew Richardson. The band also made a trips to Oklahoma City, OK for the Mid-Continent Conference (which VU won) and Tempe, AZ & Salt Lake City, UT for the NCAA tournament (where Bryce Drew made “the Shot”). When the Crusader Band made a trip to St. Louis for the Sweet Sixteen, the band was the first Valpo group to enter the gym and the crowd went wild.
1998 was an exciting year for the Crusader Band. Under the direction of Greg Heaton & Josh Bachman, the band remained quite active with over 60 members. In the fall, they played for the runners in the Popcorn Panic race associated with the annual Popcorn Festival. President Harre sat with the band during the Homecoming football game. There were two big games that year (unfortunately VU lost both). The first was VU football vs. Yale at Soldier Field in Chicago. The band took 50 people along to play for that game, & there were just over 7,500 people in attendance. The second was VU men’s basketball vs. Purdue on ESPN2 which was attended by more than 5,000 fans. They also made two trips to Indianapolis, IN with the basketball team to play in the Hoosier Dome for the NABC Classic. After winning the Mid-Con championship again, the band headed to Orlando, FL for the NCAA.