Marching band steps into new era

Band members perform at Braly Stadium at the 2016 homecoming game. The band has consistently grown under the lead of Lloyd Jones, Director of Bands. 

The award-winning Pride of Dixie marches onward as the university transitions to Division I.

With the change in divisions comes a change in the band.

“We’re ready to move forward and find new ways of representing the university to an even larger public,” said Director of Bands Lloyd Jones. 

While the program has tried different styles, it remains a jazz band, he said. 

“We’ve reached out into other styles to make sure the product we bring to the field is entertaining,” Jones said. “Some part of it is going to be entertaining to anybody in that audience.”

Senior trumpet player Elijah Hart said UNA is ready to take this step. 

“I think that being seen by bigger schools will allow us to make a bigger name for ourselves,” Hart said. 

The POD travels frequently to play in different states. Three of the last four years, the band went to the Grand National Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana, and played for unfamiliar crowds, Jones said. 

“The band has also become increasingly visible for the university,” Jones said. “We play at larger venues, (and) we’re able to basically advertise for our university.”

The move to Division I might help people across the country realize the value of UNA as one of the ìbest bands in America,” said junior Lionette Destiny Izaguirre. It might even attract more students. 

This exposure to new audiences generates interest in UNA and the Shoals, Jones said. 

The Pride of Dixie marching band has also seen consistent growth from 140 members when Jones started 19 years ago, to 250 this year. With the move to Division I, he hopes to see continued growth, Jones said. 

This growth in membership could help maintain the Lion legacy.

“The Pride of Dixie has such a long-standing tradition, just like UNA has, and I think that the move to Division I will help the Pride of Dixie and UNA continue in that tradition,” Izaguirre said. 

Jones said this transition will create more visibility for the university. 

“Whether it’s traveling to a football game with our team and supporting them, or it’s being invited to provide these exhibition (or) recruitment-type performances for marching contests, it’s going to open up new doors and enable us to spread the word about UNA,” Jones said. 

Most Division I bands have anywhere from nine to 15 staff members, and UNA has three people who work with the band, Jones said. 

With the growth of band students, Jones said he hopes to see growth in faculty members, too.

“The program has grown so much that it’s time to start adding faculty, just to make sure we’re taking care of all the needs,” he said. 

Jones said he is confident in the transition.

“I know from the side of the band, we’re going to make it positive,” Jones said.