Do you know the tab on the side of Facebook the reads “On This Day”? Every now and then I decide to click on it to see what fun things I have posted on that specific day.
When I looked today it reminded me that on this day, five years ago, I was accepted into the Pride of the Southland Marching Band.
I have been a Vol fan since as long as I can remember. My family and I watched all the games (however painful they may be), and every other piece of clothing was Tennessee Orange. But I didn’t get to go to my first game until I was in middle school. It was a normal day, normal game, until the band stepped onto the field. Needless to say, I was mesmerized. I didn’t know until later that it was a homecoming game and over half of the people on the field were alumni. Anyway, from that point on I was hooked.
I started playing flute that same year, I believe. I was determined to be a part of that group. My story took a bit of a turn in 7th grade when I broke my wrist, and I couldn’t play for 6 months. I get my cast off and a week later broke the same wrist all over again. That wasn’t my year.
Fast forward two years. I joined the Columbia Central High School Band in 2007. Over the course of the year, my wrist started bothering me more than it probably should have. We went to a doctor and he told me I needed surgery. At the end of my freshman year, I had wrist surgery. I was in a cast from May until October. I still have 2 plates and 15 screws in my right wrist.
My entire sophomore season I couldn’t play, and it was killing me. I thought ‘yes, now that I had this surgery I am gonna be better than ever!’ Boy was I wrong.
I actually had to teach myself how to play again. Enter this wonderful lady to the right. Rebecca Curry came into my life at the best possible time. She started teaching my lessons the spring semester after my surgery. She pushed me harder than anyone ever had before because she wanted me to succeed. Just after one semester with her, I made it to the top of the Symphonic band. The next year I received the Lucienda Viar Merit award from my directors, Rick Murphy and Connie Cathey. They saw my struggles after my surgery. They saw me strive to get back in playing shape. And they decided to award me for the strides I took to grow as a player and as a person.
During my Senior year, I was section leader and made it to 3rd chair Wind Ensemble of the Columbia Band. A position everyone aspired to be in. I hadn’t really thought about the Pride again until I was applying to the University of Tennessee. I was second guessing whether or not I was going to audition or not. My wrist was better, but my playing was at the place I thought it should be. On a whim, I told Rebecca that I was going to send in a video audition with one of the solo pieces I had been working on “Two Aries in Rondeau.” I sent in the video and sort of forgot about it for a while.
That was until March 7, 2011. That was the day I found a letter in the back of the car I was driving at the time. I was so nervous I couldn’t open it by myself. My best friend Lynn was with me when I found it and read it for the first time. I could not believe it. I was actually going to be a member of one of the most prestigious college marching bands in the world, The Pride of the Southland.
I knew no one going into camp. I would eat lunch and/or dinner in my room, by myself. Yes I had met new people, but I wasn’t comfortable yet.
Jessie, Beth and Olivia were all newbies with me in the piccolo section. That was until the twins decided to leave us for the baritones (still love you). We got our Pregame charts during that first week, and I wasn’t sure how to mark them just yet. Then here comes two of the sweetest most down to earth people to the rescue. Brianna and Alejandra were the two upperclassman that took me under their wing. Out of no where, I met my best friends during those two weeks at band camp. And the rest is history.
I was in Pride for four years, and I was proud to have been a squad leader in my senior season. I’m not gonna lie, it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns. It was probably the hardest, most rewarding things I have done in my entire life.
If you’re still with me, I know I have rambled a little bit in this post. I’m sorry about that. But I can honestly say it’s difficult to put into words how I feel about being a part of this organization. I feel pride, accomplishment, gratitude, excitement, determination, honor.. the list goes on and on.
This experience will be with me for the rest of my life. I am a part of a 146 year history. I have marched two of the most challenging shows in college marching band: Tennessee Pregame and THE Tennessee Circle Drill. And I have met some of the most amazing people along the way. I am forever grateful to the University of Tennessee, the UT School of Music, and the Pride of the Southland Marching Band for changing my life.