DECEMBER 14, 2015 | BY CHRISTINA STEUBE
For the first time since 1970, the Ole Miss Rebels play New Year’s Day in the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, and the University of Mississippi Marching Band, The Pride of the South, will be there to support the team with another of its trademark outstanding performances.
The Pride of South takes on the weekly task each fall of setting the atmosphere for Ole Miss football games. Fans never tire of hearing the fight song each time the Rebels score, especially when the band starts rocking in a rival team’s venue.
The 302 members of The Pride of the South will start their new year off right. The full band will be in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to pump up the crowd and team into what will hopefully be a victory over Oklahoma State to cap off another successful season. The reality of the big game is starting to set in for a few band members.
“It’s the Sugar Bowl,” said Tommy Burnette, a senior majoring in music at the University of Mississippi. “It’s one of the most exciting events in sports.”
Burnette, a native of Frisco, Texas, and huge Ole Miss football fan, said he’s saved all the newspapers and souvenir coverage from his time as a student.
“I think it’s great to be a part of this history,” Burnette said. “I’m excited that we’re ending on a really, really high note. I love being part of the band. We feel like we’re part of the team.”
For some senior band members, the most exciting moments of their time in the band involved the football team defeating Alabama. Both times.
“I’ve never seen the Grove that crowded,” said Hernando Callie Entwisle, a senior exercise science major, recalling the 2014 “College Game Day” experience. “The whole day, from start to finish, was just exhilarating.”
For Olive Branch native Michael Swann, the highlight of his experience was performing in Tuscaloosa when the Rebels defeated Alabama on their own turf.
“We were able to see Ole Miss beat Alabama for their first loss at home in 18 games, and we beat them twice in a row,” said Swann, a senior music education major. “Being a student here while all this is going on has been incredible.”
Entwisle and Vicksburg native Brittany Dotson said their first trip with the band as freshmen was to New Orleans, when Ole Miss played Tulane.
“We performed at halftime during a Saints game the next day, so performing in New Orleans is a cool way to end my time here at Ole Miss,” said Dotson, a senior communicative sciences and disorders major.
The band travels to New Orleans Dec. 30 to begin rehearsing. Two rehearsals will take place in the Superdome the day before and the day of the game, which kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 1 on ESPN.