378 31 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

The past year has been a roller coaster ride for UT's Pride of the Southland Band.

Longtime director, Dr. Gary Sousa was permanently removed from his position in March for what the university called insubordinate behavior.

RELATED: UT: Sousa demoted for ongoing "war" with athletics dept.

But now the 'Pride' is ready to move on from all of the drama and focus on the upcoming season.

The Pride is asking UT fans to prepare themselves for a brand new sound, revolving around the same tradition.

"It's unlike anything I've ever experienced. I'm not from Tennessee," Jasmeen Pantleay, UT junior, said when she was asked about the game day atmosphere.

Drum Major Jessica Henderson agrees.

"It's one of the best college stadiums in the country and there is a reason why. It's because of the fans and the tradition we have," she said.

A lot of things have changed for UT's Pride of the Southland Band over the years, but one thing has stayed the same.

"It is our tradition. We still honor the great traditions that have been going on for 50 years," said Dr. Donald Ryder, UT band director. "One tradition, when you see the interlocking UT at pregame, that's been going a long time. We are talking about 100 years."

Dr. Ryder said the 2014 season brings new faces, tons of excitement, and a brand new sound.

"We play long tunes during time outs, short tunes during plays," Henderson explained. "We have a lot of new ones. I think like 50 percent of our folder is new so that's exciting."

There will be some new things that the Pride said fans have never seen before.

"There is a surprise I can't talk about that we are actually doing with the team that's going to create a new tradition," said Dr. Ryder. "Coach Jones wants to bring a new level of excitement and the Pride is part of that as well."

Getting the crowd involved is something Pride said they really want to focus on this season. Henderson said they've added a little something extra to get fans pumped up before third downs.

"Every school has their own thing for third downs," she explained. "Some people do bells, some people do charms or bell tones. Our school wanted to do something different so we turned the song 'Turn Down for What' into 'Third down for what' and they actually incorporated our drum line."

With kickoff only days away, the drums are getting louder, the energy is increasing, and hearts are beating faster. All the Pride said they can think about it walking into Neyland Stadium on August 31.

"You can't recreate it," Dr. Ryder said. "Once you've done it, it's like taking the ride of your life and you can't recreate it."

"We always strive for excellence, to be the best we can be," Pantleay added.

The Pride of the Southland's first performance will be at the Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23. One week later they will perform at Neyland Stadium when UT takes on Utah State.

378 31 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://on.wbir.com/VGPI9w