Some of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s most positive attributes are its numerous long-standing traditions, cultivated throughout academic years characterized by dedication and passion. Perhaps one of the most unique, engaging and spirited traditions is the UW Marching Band’s Fifth Quarter.
In the late 1970s, the UW Marching Band began attracting significantly more recognition and attention from students and outsiders alike. For this reason, the band reconstructed their postgame performance to alter its structure, add goofy behaviors and expand its music repertoire. Responses to these changes to the post-game show were nothing but positive and earned its own unique title of Fifth Quarter. The same characteristics of this special postgame tradition remain today as they did when they were implemented decades ago.
I vividly remember my first Fifth Quarter as an official Badger. My new college best friends and I stuck around after the first football game of the 2022 season. We were exhausted, sweaty and ravenous, but we were excited to experience the performance from the student section. We polkaed, faked our way through the songs we did not yet know the words to and did the chicken dance as fast as we could.
Experiencing students dancing and singing with each other to cherished Wisconsin anthems was one of those “ah-ha” moments where I remembered just how lucky I was to be a student at UW-Madison.
Nothing brings people together like music does, and Fifth Quarter is the perfect example of this. The songs performed by the band are songs that have been loved by generations of UW-Madison students. When current students sing and dance to the band’s music, they are singing and dancing with thousands of Badgers that came before them.
Fifth Quarter promotes UW-Madison school spirit and is an essential part of every home football game, providing the band with the spotlight they deserve and students with the space to be goofy alongside them.
I had the pleasure of interviewing UW-Madison associate marching band director Dr. Corey Pompey about his initial take on Fifth Quarter when he started as director several years ago. After experiencing his first Fifth Quarter, Pompey felt he had “never seen anyone or any organization do a post game performance like this one.”
Prior to directing at UW-Madison, Pompey was involved with marching bands at other universities such as the University of Nevada-Reno, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Texas at Austin. Despite years of experience with other accomplished bands, Pompey remarked that the Fifth Quarter was “a shock to the system” in a positive way.
Additionally, he remarked that “most of the band members enjoy doing it” and that “when we don’t do Fifth Quarter, it’s a huge disappointment.” Pompey agreed that Fifth Quarter boosts member morale and is important to the students.
If you are not sticking around for Fifth Quarter, you definitely should be. Take it from Dr. Pompey that Fifth Quarter is a “chance to dance a little bit and an opportunity to sing a little bit in a judgment-free zone.” Just as Pompey said, there truly is nothing like it.
The band adores the postgame tradition, and you will too. After the next home game, grab a couple friends and hang out for the celebration! You certainly will not regret it.