“In my junior or senior year, a group of Karma guys created the Karma Kats to play at the home hockey games. The Kats had no formal connection to the hockey team, the administration, or the college, but nobody ever interfered with their playing or even marching onto the ice at period breaks. Their only uniform was their brown Karma jackets. They were a hell of a lot of fun, and I think they had a hell of a lot of fun.”
- Richard J. Dalphin ‘53
“We’re a rambling wreck from Clarkson Tech and a helluva engineer!”
The article in the Summer 2014 magazine celebrating the Clarkson Pep Band’s 50 anniversary, has generated responses from several alumni who offer vivid accounts of pep band history; a history that stretches back before 1964, when the Clarkson Pep Band was officially formed and recognized by the University.
“Perhaps others can claim to enlarging the Pep Band to become more than one fraternity’s operation, or to expand to playing at off-campus games and making the band ‘official and recognized by the University,’” wrote John F. Dalphin (ME) ’62 ’73. “But for me the real ‘founders’ were members of Karma in the early 1950’s who loved Clarkson hockey and wanted to proclaim that feeling at the games.”
Fraternity members John Dalphin, his brother Richard (ME) ’53, and W. B. “Bill” Mason ’63 shared their memories of the “Karma Kats,” which became known as the Pi Kapp Kats, when Karma fraternity became a chapter of the national social fraternity, Pi Kappa Phi in 1957.
“I played in the Pi Kapp Kats, during my undergraduate years at Clarkson, from 1958 to 1962,” said John Dalphin. “Although the ‘Kats’ under Karma and then Pi Kappa Phi were made up predominantly of fraternity brothers, it was respected as a college activity.”
Bill Mason recalls, “We played at all home games, and always went to Appleton and sometimes to RPI’s old barn. We also played at the Utica War memorial at the first final four Clarkson went to. The Golden Knights beat Berenson & Co. 5-4, but lost the final to Michigan Tech for second place that year.”
“Our fight song was co-opted from Georgia Tech ( “we’re a rambling wreck from Clarkson Tech and a helluva engineer”) and we always played the old alma mater between the second and third periods. We had several other songs as well, which are best not remembered! I generally led the ‘give me a C’ cheer between every period. We were not very inventive back then, but it was really easy to fire up the Clarkson Arena crowd!”
“One of the advantages of playing in the pep band,” Masons says, “was the capacity of our horn cases to hold necessary refreshments, which were generally needed at the arena, as there was no heat back in those days. Nights at 20-30-degrees below zero, required period application of ‘antifreeze!’ We also sponsored the white and blue Pi Kappa Phi bell behind the river goal that Ken Dryden referred to the alumni magazine article , so it must have still been in use after I left in 1963.”