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The Pride of the South makes changes for the better

Imagine yourself walking, or stumbling, through the student section on game day.
The crowd stands up to sing the fight song or “Dixie” and usually breaks out the “Hotty Toddy” chant to really get the game started. There is one factor in this string of tradition most students overlook, but without it, the spirit of the game wouldn’t be the same: the band.
This year the band has made some changes to increase the spirit of the game.
For starters, it is moving to the student section.
The acoustics allow for the band to be louder in the stadium, but students will also be together to cheer on the team in unison.
Junior nursing major Leslie Sisson, a three-year piccolo player, is expecting the amplified sound to ignite crowd involvement.
Meredith Clayton, a junior marketing major, said she thinks there may be some negative results concerning the move.
“I’m all about getting the students fired up,” she said. “I just don’t think that there is going to be enough room for all the students, which would defeat the purpose of student involvement anyway.”
Senior music education major Joseph Habib, who is one of the drum majors, disagrees and thinks the move into the student section will have a positive effect on the energy of the student section.
“I believe the band is the initial reference to what the spirit of the game should be like,” he said.
Producing a sound that generates the fans’ enthusiasm is the band’s main goal.
Habib said a new song has been added to the list this year. It is called “Rebel Nation” and will always be played between the first and second quarters. He also expects to receive more of a response from the crowd and maybe even start a new tradition.
The band’s appearance has changed too.
Another change the band made is the uniforms. After 12 years of wearing the same old thing, the uniforms have been replaced with new, more modern ones.
Sisson has high hopes of getting some relief on game day.
“The design is pretty much the same, but they are a lot thinner, so it should be cooler,” she said.
There are also some director changes.
Former assistant director Bill DeJournett is now over the marching band, which was previously led by the head director David Willson.
Plus, new director Randy Dale joined the Pride of the South last year. So while the directors are still the same for the most part, responsibilities have changed, which will hopefully make the band more effective.
Speaking of being more effective, Sisson said the band goes through vigorous preparation to fulfill its responsibilities on game day.
According to Habib, you can be assured that the members do not do it to be in the spotlight or because they love to move while constantly out of breath in extreme weather conditions.
Hearing Habib and Sisson talk about the reasons they love being in the band, one was obvious. The bond they share with their fellow bandmates is definitely worth the work.
Along with friendships, Habib, who has been in band since high school, explains that he finds inspiration in his bandmates’ determination to keep moving even when everything within is begging them to give up.
“The reason we do it is because we love this university, we love this campus and we love this student body, and we want to provide an atmosphere conducive to cheering on the team to do what they need to do,” Habib said.
The band enters the stadium with one mission in mind: to radiate energy and spirit throughout the stadium. Habib and Sisson hope the band serves as a support system that fans lean on even when negativity swarms the stadium.