Students bring ‘Pride’ to SDSU’s marching band

Students bring 'Pride' to SDSU's marching band "Ladies and gentlemen, the Pride is back!"

This message from the announcer launches another rousing halftime performance by the South Dakota State University Pride of the Dakotas Marching Band.

For years members of the Pride have entertained thousands of fans at Coughlin Alumni Stadium. Their energetic performances elicit standing ovations and keep audience members riveted to the bleachers until the last note dies in the wind.

Lately, that talent has been on display all across the nation.

In the past, the Pride has been one of the few college bands chosen to play for two presidential inaugurations in Washington, D.C. They performed for President Reagan in 1981 and for President Clinton in 1997. And, Oct. 25, the Pride added yet another performance to their list of accomplishments as they performed a special halftime concert for 59,500 fans at the Green Bay Packers football game at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, WI.

Members of the Pride come from a variety of majors, including nursing, apparel merchandising, journalism and veterinary science. Of the 285 members, only 60 are music majors, said James McKinney, director of bands at State for the past 20 years.

This year, running 285 strong, the Pride is the largest ever and McKinney loves to see the audience reap joy from the band's performance.

"I really enjoy the fact that our audiences at SDSU sit and watch what we're doing," he said. "At most universities, the stands clear out at halftime. Here, you just don't see that. There is virtually no movement because the fans want to see the Pride perform."

McKinney, one of the Pride's biggest fans, said hard work and dedication has made the band what it is today.

James Coull, assistant director of bands, has helped McKinney lead the team for 14 years. He sees the Pride as an "eye opener" for many freshman.

"A lot of underclassmen may have a hard time trying to adapt to college life," Coull said. "With such a big campus, it's real easy for kids to get lost at State. That's where the Pride steps in."

At the beginning of the year, the Pride is divided into groups of eight. Two upperclassmen are assigned to each group, with instructions from McKinney and Coull to learn everything they can about each student in their group. This assures new member that they've got at least one immediate friend, as well as advice and comfort for any challenges they may face during their first year at State.

"This way, new members are accepted right away, and it starts off as a positive experience," Coull said. "A lot of close friendships are formed in the Pride."

Currently, the Pride has an open-door policy. If students want to join, all it takes is a little playing experience and a lot of dedication.

"Anyone can join, really," McKinney said. "There are no auditions. We want people who are willing to try hard and commit themselves to doing their best for the Pride."

Recent Pride performances included a special high school performance by the Drumline in Aberdeen and the Brassline in Estelline, both on Oct. 29.

Oct. 31 marked the last home game of the Jackrabbit football season and the Pride performed a Halloween show at halftime.

In addition, the Pride will perform a biennial indoor concert at SDSU's Frost Arena Nov. 8. Tickets can be purchased through Pride members or the SDSU Music Department.

The final performance by the Pride will be Nov. 10 in Pierre for a special indoor concert with the Pierre High School Marching Band.

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