Exeter Deconstructed: The Red Bandits

The school we love in detail.

February 1, 2023


Wanted: Exeter students. The noisier, the better. Must have school spirit and a thing for face paint. Lots of red clothing is a plus. Kilts provided.

Exonians with the requisite qualities have been answering this call for decades, serving collectively as the accelerant on the Exeter-Andover fire in their role as Red Bandits. Each time the E/A games roll around, the Bandits rile the crowds and let all within earshot know that “WE ARE E-X-E-T-E-R!”

The Academy officially recognizes the Bandits today, and they are chosen by Student Activities from a pool of applicants. But their origins are less formal and somewhat murky. A 1988 story about a pre-E/A assembly in The Exonian tells of “not-so-traditional cheerleaders showing their stuff.” Six years later, The Exonian reported “the idea of having Red Bandits started when a nonathletic, somewhat … angry group of guys got together for the purpose of adding more spirit to Exeter.”

The lack of school spirit is a time-honored lament at Exeter. Newspaper editorials dating to the 1890s bemoan a shortage of support for Exeter teams. “It should be unnecessary to again call attention to what is nothing more than a lack of school spirit,” the editors wrote in 1895.

Last fall, with the advent of a pep band and a student fan section called The Big Red Zone, many Exeter varsity teams enjoyed vocal support. And when E/A arrived in November, the Red Bandits were in Andover, the noisiest of them all.  

Editor's note: The article first appeared in the winter 2023 issue of The Exeter Bulletin.