Tuesday Traditions: The Pride of the Southland Marching Band

In this edition of Tuesday Traditions, Sam Forman takes a look at the traditions brought on by the Pride of the Southland Marching Band.

The Pride of the Southland Band. Photo by Ben Ozburn. No changes made.

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This week, Tuesday Traditions makes its way to an organization that gave UT some of its most beloved traditions — and is one that you can always hear coming. I’m talking about the Pride of the Southland Marching Band. It truly wouldn’t be a fall Saturday in Knoxville without the Pride.

The Pride played a roll in many of Tennessee traditions, such as “Rocky Top,” running through the “Power T” and the Tennessee Circle Drill. All of those will be talked about in their own installments, but there are still plenty of other traditions the pride has that will be covered here.

Salute to The Hill  – The Pride starts their game days off with a practice several hours before the game, but as kick-off draws closer, the Pride marches their way to Neyland Stadium and ends with a sequence called “Salute to the Hill.” The Pride’s route has changed over the years due to construction, but the new route sees the band march across the campus pedestrian bridge and round the corner to come down Middle Drive by the Alumni Memorial Building. The band then splits Middle Drive and Phillip Fulmer Way. Half the band is standing on the hill and the other half turns and faces the hill. The Pride then plays three songs, including “Rocky Top” and “Fight Vols Fight.”

Pregame “A tradition unrivaled”-   The Pride’s pregame festivities haven’t really changed much since Dr. WJ Julian took over as band director in 1961. Dr. Julian remained band director for three decades and shaped the band into what it is today. One of his many impacts on the band was its pregame performance. The Pride has updated it throughout the years, but even after Julian’s retirement, the band has kept things mostly the same. Today, the band’s pregame ritual consists of popular songs like “Mountain Music,” “Tennessee River” and “Stars and Stripes Forever.” The band forms spirals on the sidelines, then un-spirals to get on to the field. After the band plays the National Anthem, they march down the field — only to head back towards the south end zone, spelling out the word V-O-L-S. The Pride then stops and plays the visiting team’s fight song, then flips and plays “Rocky Top” and makes the interlocking UT. After that, the band plays “Spirit of the Hill” — one of the university’s oldest songs — and forms the “Power T” before doing spelling out V-O-L-S again. The band thae forms the letters U-S-A on the field before one of the most famous entrances in all of college football — opening the “T” and playing “Down the Field,” the school’s official fight song.

The Alma Mater– Unlike most bands, the Pride of the Southland doesn’t play the university’s alma mater during pregame. Instead, the band plays it at the end of each home halftime performance. Two trumpet soloists play a solo while the band, normally under the direction of the associate director of bands, plays the alma mater.

Post-game/Tennessee Waltz– Since Butch Jones has become head coach at Tennessee, a newer post-game tradition has been born. At the end of every home game, the football team joins together near the Pride as the band plays Rocky Top. The Pride then plays the Tennessee Waltz and sways along with fans, football players and members of the spirit team.

Dr. WJ Julian– The Pride would not be what it is today without Dr. Julian. He may not have started the band, but he started most of the band’s traditions. He moved the band out from the ROTC program and into the College of Education, and also designed new uniforms for the band — something that the Pride still wears today. Julian also helped to grow the band to record numbers and build the band intto a top-five program nationally. In 1997, Dr. Gary Sousa took over, but the Pride continued to honor the traditions Julian started. The current director of bands, Dr. Donald Ryder, continues where Sousa left off.

Today, the band continues to recognized as one of the country’s best marching band programs. They are constantly recognized as a top-five program and have many traditions that are unrivaled in college football.

Edited by Nathan Odom

Featured image by Ben Ozburn

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Sam Forman is the lead sports staff writer for the Tennessee Journalist and is a senior studying Journalism and Electronic Media with a focus on sports broadcasting and reporting. He has been with TNJN since the fall of 2014. He is also a DJ for WUTK 90.3 fm. and a member of the Rock Solid Sports team. Sam has spent six years marching in the Pride of The Southland Marching Band. When he is not covering or talking sports, you can find him outdoors, playing music or hanging out with friends. You can find him on twitter: @samWforman