Pride of Dixie accepts national championship invitation

UNA’s Pride of Dixie Marching Band plays at the 2015 homecoming football game. The band recently accepted an invitation to perform at the Bands of America Grand National Championships.

News Editor Kaitlyn Davis

UNA’s Pride of Dixie Marching Band will play in front of thousands at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, for the Bands of America Grand National Championships Nov. 11.

The band received invitations, over the summer, to play at the National Championships and the Bands of America Super Regional Championships as an exhibition band. The POD will only play at the National Championships because the band lacked funding to attend both competitions.

The National Championships is a competition for high school marching bands all over the nation. The country’s best college bands are invited to perform at the competition to showcase their talents for aspiring marching bands across the country.

“To be at the Grand National Championships as an exhibition band, that’s like performing halftime at the Super Bowl,” said Director of Bands Lloyd Jones.

Performing on such a grand scale allows the POD to put UNA on the map, Jones said

“It really gives us an opportunity to put our university on a national stage and expose it to literally tens of thousands of people who have never heard of the University of North Alabama,” Jones said.

This is not the first time the band marched onto the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts home field, but rather the third. The POD performed at the National Championships in 2013 and 2014.

“I think it’s just a big honor,” said Drum Major and senior Hannah Jacobs. “It’s like a big thing for us. Not only to have been invited, but to have been invited multiple times because that’s usually very unheard of.”

The stadium will be full of high school band members watching the POD’s every move, and Jones said he hopes their eyes will stay there.

“We want to recruit those students and get them interested in UNA,” Jones said. “So, we do these types of exhibition performances throughout our region here in Alabama.”

At the National Championships, high school students will glimpse what it is like to be in a college band.

“We’re setting the example of ‘Here’s what the next level looks like’ for all these high schools,” Jones said.

Playing at the National Championships is unique because the crowd is full of people who love band, said Drum Major and senior Victoria Roose.

“My favorite part (of playing at the National Championships) is the atmosphere because everybody there knows exactly what we put into it, what it takes to get to the level that we’re at,” Roose said. “They can appreciate it. It’s all band kids so they’re like, ‘Oh my gosh,’ you know, and they’re freaking out.”

The POD worked hard to reach this level, Jones said.

“We’re insistent that they (practice) correctly,” he said.

Practices are demanding and require members to bring their A-game, Roose said.

“We’re always pretty high intensity regardless, give us 110 percent from (the beginning of practice) until we’re dismissed,” she said.

It is this attitude that inspired Head Drum Major and graduate student Evan Curtis, when he was younger, to join the band, he said.

“Just from the time I first saw the POD, I was like, ‘I have to be a part of that. I want to be a part of that.’” Curtis said. “It was just inspiring, it just made me want to be the best that I could be.”

Students like Curtis are the reason the band is so good, Jones said.

“People always ask me, ‘Why is the band at UNA so good?’ and I say ‘Well it’s because we have such great people in the band,’” Jones said. “They’re super young men and women, and they’re OK with working hard to have a really good product.”