RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia Commonwealth University’s Vice President and Director of Athletics Ed McLaughlin announced in a release on Tuesday that Ryan Kopacsi will return as director of the school’s pep band, The Peppas.

Kopacsi, who is a native of Varina, Virginia, led The Peppas from 1998 to 2016. During that time, the band followed the VCU Men’s Basketball team to the Final Four in 2011, played in sold-out performances during the program’s ten-year sellout streak and became a fixture at VCU Athletics and community events, the release read.

“He was just a fierce and passionate person to lead the band in that kind of way,” said former Peppa, Andre Mollineau. Mollineau joined The Peppas in 2012, a year after they had won just won “Battle of the Bands.”

Ryan Kopacsi returning to VCU Athletics to lead The Peppas (Photo by Sierra Krug/WRIC)

“Everyone who was in that group the year before brought back that same energy,” he said.

The energy, according to Mollineau, was one of the most unique aspects of Kopasci’s leadership.

“Honestly, everything Ryan did was unique,” he said. “Ryan is a force unto himself.”

Mollineau said he and other former band members shared their excitement when they heard the news that Kopacsi would be back.

“I’m happier than anything,” Mollineau said.

“Ryan and I share the same vision of making our gameday atmosphere the best in the country – college or pro. We have seen the pivotal role that The Peppas play in creating that atmosphere. After many discussions, we both knew the time was right for him to return to VCU and re-energize our talented students in The Peppas and our fans. I know our fans will welcome him home like we have in VCU Athletics,” McLaughlin said in the release.

The Peppas pep band has won several “Battle of the Bands” competitions, appeared on “The Today Show” and earned praises from broadcasters and sportswriters around the country, according to VCU Athletics.

“To my VCU family, a day I thought was long gone has come again, and I couldn’t be more humbled and honored. I can’t wait for us to be performing for the coaches and athletes again and helping to win games by creating the best atmosphere in college athletics. I encourage everyone to come back and see what’s going to be cooking again. Let’s go!” Kopacsi said in the release.