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Doc Nix leads an exuberant crowd.

Doc Nix and the Green Machine are top of the Peps, leading the list of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Best Pep Bands list. Here, they pump up the crowd at Mason Madness.

If You Play or Sing, They Want You

The ear-catching sounds of Doc Nix and the Green Machine, George Mason University’s pep band, have landed it at the very top of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Best Pep Bands list.

The NCAA rankings named five bands in the land to the list.

The Green Machine’s affinity for adding rappers, singers and electronic violins to the pieces it performs were just some of the reasons the association cited for naming the band number one.

The band started including string instrumentalists after a viola player said he wanted to play, Michael Nickens, better known as “Doc Nix,” the director of Athletic Bands at George Mason. The band has the technical know-how to make the musical arrangements work and make all those who want to play strong contributing members, he says.

“It comes from wanting to include anyone who wants to be included.”

Michael “Doc Nix” Nickens, director of Athletic Bands at George Mason University

The band is a diverse group of passionate performers — Nickens says scholarship students and students enrolled in the pep band course are mainstays the group, but he also has alumni and faculty who pop in for a performance here or there.