Pride of Mississippi marches into Sun Belt Conference at USM
HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - The Pride of Mississippi marching band takes to Spirit Park tonight to pump up Southern Miss fans for tomorrow’s football season opener.
Band Director Travis Higa said the band members spent countless hours working all summer preparing for the new season and paying tribute to the Golden Eagles’ Sun Belt Conference debut.
“Extremely excited, extremely pumped,” Higa said. “This is my fourth year with Pride of Mississippi, and each year gets better and better. And I’m just really excited to see them do what they do best, which is perform and keep the high standards of excellence.”
Emmanuel Carney, assistant drum major, said the show this year is bound to take USM “To The Top.”
“We have a really diverse show this season,” Carney said. “We’re bringing the energy, bringing you know, the funk, and so y’all need to show up and see what we’ve got.”
Assistant Director Eric Scott said the work hasn’t been easy, but it’s been worth it.
“Our students have done an incredible job preparing throughout preseason and enduring all the heat and the humidity and, of course, now the rain, and they have been incredibly resilient through the process of that, as well as just starting off their first semester in the fall,” Scott said.
On September 3, the band will start game day with a campus tradition known by many and loved by plenty, the Eagle Walk.
“Eagle walk is actually my favorite part of the entire game day,” said Kragen Lewis, piccolo section leader. “We walk down the Eagle Walk; you see all your friends, family, all the people that you know from across campus. Then we kind of split that block up, and we let the football team, the cheerleaders, dancers, they all kind of walkthrough, and it really just does get the game day mode set for the rest of the day.”
In addition to the Eagle Walk, the band also has a drumline performance, a pre-game show and, of course, the famous half-time entertainment. This will be the Pride’s first half-time show in the Sun Belt Conference.
“As a part of that (first time in the Sun Belt Conference), we put together our first half-time as a celebration of that,” Scott said. “And so, you’re going to see ‘Walking on Sunshine,’ ‘I’m So Excited,’ ‘House of the Rising Sun’ and then ‘Fly Like an Eagle,’ because the (Golden) Eagles, and then ‘Free Birds.’ So, it’s going to be a lot of wonderful music, and there’s going to be something for everyone.”
Members said the excitement is high, and the Pride is ready for Saturday!
“I love football,” said Color Guard Captain Aji Touray. “So actually, being able to do something I love and watch football at the same time is just amazing and just seeing the smile on people’s faces; it brings joy to my heart.
Higa hopes the fans will come out this year to support Southern Miss.
“I just want to say come and support us all season,” he said. “We’re here to make sure that the energy and the hype are up, and we’re just excited to be back in the stands, in The Rock supporting the Golden Eagles.”
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