High-tech computing director toots his horn for the Shockers

2:31:45 PM CDT - Friday, February 03, 2006

By Chase Willhite

Earlier this season when the Wichita State men's basketball team played at home against Missouri State, WSU staff member John Matrow sat in the trombone section of the WSU pep band with instrument in hand.

Following a string of Shocker points, Missouri State called timeout, and as the crowd went wild and the band blared the "Low Brass Cheer," it was just like old times for Matrow, director of WSU's High Performance Computing Center.

Photo by David Dinell
John Matrow, director of WSU's High Performance Computing Center, plays trombone as part of the WSU pep band during a recent men's basketball game. Matrow has been tooting his trombone for the Shockers for the past two years
Years ago as an undergraduate student at Central Missouri State, Matrow majored in computer science and minored in music, spending evenings and weekends in the school's marching and pep bands.

His love of music and computers is alive and well at WSU.

"That may be an odd combination," Matrow said. "It's just two things that I've always been interested in, and for me, they just go together."

This is Matrow's second season with the Shocker pep band, joining local musicians, WSU students and alumni in the group.

Matrow, who is also a member of the Midian Shrine Band, heard from a friend that the Shocker pep band always needs more people for both the trombone section and the band in general.

As a member of the group, which is directed by graduate assistants Josh Fleig and Mike Mapp, Matrow has played with the band at convocation, both men's and women's basketball games and the Missouri Valley Basketball tournament in St. Louis.

Despite the fun he's having in the band, Matrow has always stressed that he never wants to take an opportunity away from a student. He said he jumped at the chance to play with the band only after he was assured that there were not enough students to fill the slots for certain instruments.

"I've always said that if they have enough students, I'll quit tomorrow," Matrow said. "It's definitely their university and their band, and I'm just happy to help out now that they don't have enough people."

In fact, Matrow counts getting to know the students as one of the best experiences he's had in the band. He's always amazed at their talents and he says they've made fitting in with the group much easier.

He's even shown a few of them the finer points of Texas Hold 'em poker.

"Yeah, at last year's Missouri Valley Tournament in St. Louis, I just couldn't lose," Matrow said. "We had a game going, and the students weren't doing too well."

But, in showing his compassion for the students, Matrow immediately felt badly about taking the students' money, and the next morning used the winnings from the poker game to buy doughnuts for everyone on the bus.

It's that kind of attitude that leads students to appreciate Matrow as much as he appreciates them.

"John does a great job in the band," said Troy Fischer, a sophomore music education major who's in his second year with the pep band. "He brings a lot of fun-filled enthusiasm to every game, and he's a great guy.

"Just don't play poker with him," Fischer joked.

Photo by David Dinell
With a view like this as part of the pep band during men's basketball games at Koch Arena, John Matrow thinks he "might just have the best seat in the whole place," when Shocker fans "blow the roof off."
While another poker game might not be on the horizon, if he's needed Matrow is more than willing to make another trip to the tournament this year. He plans to be with the band every step of the way as the Shockers finish out their season.

"It's really a special experience playing in the band when the teams are doing so well," Matrow said. "When the games are going well, the fans in Koch Arena just blow the roof off with noise, and I just sit there thinking I might just have the best seat in the whole place."

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