This story was originally published in the Mar 2 print issue of Fourth Estate.
Dr. Michael “Doc Nix” Nickens and the Green Machine have landed at number one on the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s High Five: Best Pep Bands list and were recently commended by the Virginia General Assembly.
While playing before the biggest crowd of the season at this year’s homecoming game on Feb. 14, the group was recognized during a break and received a standing ovation from Patriots past and present in a fashion that had Doc Nix tearing up on the sideline.
“I could’ve never predicted we could be honored like that,” Nickens said. “It was like nothing I’ve ever seen before.”
The animated director connects the award to the bands uniqueness, high-quality shows, dynamite performers and the creative design and writing.
Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax) had the group praised in Senate Resolution No. 94 offered on Feb. 11.
According to the resolution, it is, “an expression of the Senate of Virginia’s admiration for the band’s work to pep up the athletes and fans of George Mason University and to represent one of the premier universities of the Commonwealth.”
Nickens added that Peterson does a lot of work for the university and that the honor was Peterson’s idea.
“One of his aides got in touch with me one day and told me they wanted to do it,” Nickens said. “Once they decided that they were doing it, it was rolling.”
“[The recognition] felt well deserved because everyone puts in such an amazing amount of effort and everyone has a true passion for what they do in the band from clarinet to drums,” said freshman bassist Scott Miceli. “Doc Nix is one of the most enthusiastic, passionate people who could lead this band and makes Green Machine what it is. His assistant Jeremy Freer also does an amazing job at keeping things running.”
Patrick Holloway, a junior guard on the men’s basketball team, is a big supporter of the group as well.
“I think the Green Machine is a vital piece to the GMU atmosphere,” Holloway said. “They really get everyone hype for the game.”
The Green Machine’s set list includes songs from artists such as Rage Against the Machine, Tupac, Kanye West, Aerosmith, Muse and many others.
While Nickens says he is definitely honored with the recent recognition, he claims that it is not a measure of all things and he does not want to get out of control on how he thinks about it.
“I’m very happy about it and it definitely lets me know that we’ve done our job of being a symbol for the university and being a strong advocate for education and a strong advocate for arts,” Nickens said. “We’re advocating by doing it.”
Andrew Kerper, a junior saxophonist in the group, says that the ensemble no longer sees one other as bandmates, but more as a family.
“We are all responsible for something in the band whether it’s collecting jerseys, taking attendance, and/or just being there for someone when they need help,” Kerper said. “It’s a collective mind that you don’t understand until you sit in our section of the Patriot Center and rock out with us.”
Kerper also believes that the recognition goes beyond a title.
“It’s not about the title for us, it’s about the fans and the school,” Kerper said. “We are all proud to be in the Green Machine and proud to serve our school.”
Photo credit: Johannah Tubalado