By Richard Springer
The Pride of the South Marching Band was established in 1928 and currently occupies a building on the outskirts of campus. Since then, they’ve practiced on a field just south of the building adjacent to Swayze Field. What makes the Pride of the South’s practice field stand out is its poor quality compared to fields of similar schools. Band member Katie-Rose O’Quinn said that the field is not up to the standard that the Pride of the South deserves.
“My high school band had a better practice field than our Ole Miss band,” O’Quinn said. “And I think that just has to do with the location of the field to start with. It’s kind of in a ditch. It’s like a swampy little area, doesn’t have very good drainage, you know, has grass. It’s an area for us to march, so we’re grateful to have it, but it’s been the same field, I think, forever. You know, at least as long as Mr. Wilson has been there for over 30 years, and at some point, it’s been marched on over and over and over again. It is definitely not the worst field in the world, but for us to be called the Pride of the South and have to march on something that does not make us feel like we have any pride. It kind of, you know, doesn’t make sense.”
Since Director of Bands David Wilson started at UM, it’s been a primary concern of his to work on getting the Pride of the South a practice field on the same level as those of other nearby schools.
“It would be nice to have artificial turf or something to go over it like the other bands in the state do,” Wilson said. “Mississippi State and Southern both have turf fields. Other SEC schools such as Georgia and Alabama, also have turf fields. And, you know, I remember someone asked me about like, ‘Well, wouldn’t that be worse when you get too hot?’ And I was like, you can drink water and cool down. But if it’s a rainy day, that’s a whole day of practice we could use, and then also shoes that don’t get destroyed because I have lost a good number of shoes to the mud.”
O’Quinn also said that band members have struggled with the conditions of the field when it comes to unevenness in the terrain.
“I do know of a color guard girl who ended up either breaking or spraining her ankle by accidentally stepping in a hole that had just kind of grown there, like, I guess, little animals are hiding up under it,” O’Quinn said.
Its other campus organizations, such as UM Athletics, said O’Quinn, that could be doing more to help the band raise money.
“If we had Ole Miss Football make a post and say, ‘Here’s our band field that we need to have, we need to raise money for if you can donate any amount.’ I feel like we would get a huge amount of donors from that,” O’Quinn said. “And then if we had Lane Kiffin and Keith Carter tweet something of their own and then donate. Like the other day, Coach Yo, tweeted at us and said, ‘I just donated to the Ole Miss Band. Y’all deserve it. Good job.’ That prompted other people to donate to us.”
One of O’Quinn’s Twitter threads got a lot of attention last June when she posted comparing the struggle the Band has faced in raising money to the donation from a private donor in the amount of $1,150,000 to move the Confederate statue on campus, as well as comparing the Pride of the South’s practice field with those of Mississippi State, Alabama, and Georgia.
“I view Twitter as a social media platform that spreads news really fast,” said O’Quinn. “That’s not always a good thing, but in this case, it was a good thing.”
The Ole Miss Band has raised more than $24,524 from 285 donors during Ole Miss Giving Day 2021.
If you’d like to donate to the Pride of the South, visit umfoundation.givingfuel.com/band.