The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Band loses brother

John Holohan, a former St. John’s pep band director and an aspiring musician, died tragically on Oct. 31 in a car accident in Wyoming, according to a statement released by the St. John’s athletic department.

Holohan, 31, and his band, Bayside, had been on tour in Wyoming and were traveling to Salt Lake City, Utah for a Monday night performance when the band’s van flipped over after hitting an icy patch on a highway outside of Cheyenne, W.Y., according to a release on the band’s Web site

Nick Ghanbarian, Bayside’s bass player, was seriously injured in the accident and was hospitalized along with several members of the band’s crew.

Holohan’s death has sparked an outpouring of emotion from across the St. John’s community, a community which he affected greatly.

“One thing John always told me was to follow your dreams,” said Charlie Sedacca, a 2001 alumnus of St. John’s and a member of the pep band. “He always said that whatever you did you had to love, and he was definitely doing what he loved.”

“What hurts the most is that he was just getting to where he wanted to be,” said Melissa Manno, the ticket manager for the athletic department and close friend of Holohan. “The band was really doing well. It’s just not fair that this had to happen.”

According to the athletic department’s statement, Holohan, a 1997 graduate who held a bachelors of science in criminal justice, changed the music played by the pep band to include classic band pieces as well as pop songs.

“He changed the face of the band,” said Steve Shpak, the pep band’s graduate assistant and a friend of Holohan’s. “Other pep bands are like marching bands, but we just have fun. He made everyone love being here.”

“He took some of the old music and integrated it. The kids really liked him and just enjoyed working with him,” Manno said. “He was funny. He was crazy. Everyone you talk to probably has 10 crazy stories about John. He was one of those people that was just always involved. He was just an exceptional person and a caring guy.”

Holohan, originally from Miller Place, N.Y. in Suffolk County, recently moved to New Jersey after marrying Amy Martin, a St. John’s alumnus.

“She’s a mess,” Manno said of Martin. “It’s incredibly tough for her.”

St. John’s alumnus Sal Mignano offered several reflections when asked about his close friend, whom he often referred to as “Beatz,” his popular nickname.

“John was a man that never passed up an opportunity and was never scared that he couldn’t do something,” Mignano said. “John was like a teacher, big brother, and a best friend to me. I learned so much from him that he made me who I am today.”

In honor of Holohan, the pep band played the national anthem during Saturday night’s men’s soccer game. In an orchestrated move, the team left their usual place at mid-field and stood directly in front of the pep band for the duration of the anthem.

“John was one of those guys I wish everyone could have met,” Shpak said. “He inspired everyone around him and always put you above himself. You just always felt important around him.”

At the game, members of the St. John’s pep band sold black wristbands to honor Holohan’s memory, with all proceeds going to the John Holohan Bayside Memorial Fund, set up to help Holohan’s family in the aftermath of his death.

“John will never be forgotten by those he met in life. His positive energy was contagious, and all I can remember is his smile,” said Brian Meehan, a friend of Holohan’s and the assistant to the director in the University Freshman Center.

“The Pep Band rose to unseen levels under his direction, and John was the glue,” Meehan added.

The current director of the pep band, Kevin Vail, became emotional when asked about Holohan during Saturday’s men’s soccer game.

“John was the staple for the pep band. During his five years as director, he took a group that was filled with factions and united them,” Vail said. “His presence here at St. John’s was a gift and a blessing.”

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