UM band expands, better practice range


By Edwin B. Smith

University of Mississippi

The University of Mississippi Pride of the South Marching Band performs at halftime during the 2021 Ole Miss-Arkansas football game at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. The university announced on Wednesday (April 27) that it was moving forward with the construction of a new practice field for the group. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

Seeking to expand and improve outdoor rehearsal conditions, the University of Mississippi is committing $3.5 million to build a bigger and better practice field for its award-winning Pride of the South marching band.

Chancellor Glenn Boyce made the announcement late Wednesday afternoon, April 27, at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts to students, faculty, and band members Ole Miss. The university’s commitment will be accompanied by various major donations and donations to the project from Helen Overstreet, Sumner and Risa Spralding, Cora Mitchell and Alex and Linda MacCormack totaling approximately $330,000.

“At Ole Miss, we are committed to supporting and fostering the success of our students,” Boyce said. “We are thrilled to see this moment that we have been working on for years come to fruition for the Ole Miss group. Our students deserve this investment in them.

The new practice field will have proper drainage structures and lights, a new manager’s tower, storage building and adequate field access. Construction is expected to begin in August and be completed in the summer of 2023.

The project was originally proposed at a meeting of the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Education Board of Trustees nearly five years ago. At that time, a design fee of $65,000 was approved and the design professional was appointed. The project lay dormant until the university submitted a new revised budget request of $3.5 million, which the board approved last week.

“The new scope of practice is a great way to demonstrate our commitment and appreciation to the more than 300 dedicated and talented members of the group who work hard every day to contribute to the pride and passion of the university,” Boyce said. . “Our goal is that this new area will also enhance the meaningful opportunities and experiences our students gain as members of the group.

“More generally, this is an exciting and rewarding development for the entire Ole Miss community, as southern pride is a vital part of our spirit, our enthusiasm and our excellence.”

Music teachers, staff, and students at UM received the news with excitement and gave Boyce a standing ovation.

“The new practice field will improve group practice and performance in a number of ways,” said group manager Randy Dale. “Students will be able to work and learn every day in a safe and comfortable environment. Instructors will have everything they need to successfully train members, detect and correct problems, and facilitate effective practices.

“Visitors and potential band members will see a beautiful set-up that will hopefully inspire them to return to Ole Miss, many hopefully as a member of Pride of the South.”

Funding for the new practice area is just one example of how the university is supporting both its programs and its staff, said Nancy Maria Balach, president and professor of music.

“The new domain will be used by band students who come from across campus and will greatly benefit our growing department and established recruiting efforts,” she said. “We sincerely thank the administration of UM for taking the band and the music department to new heights.”

Band members said they looked forward to rehearsals at the new practice ground.

“I’m really grateful we got it so soon,” said Jaquavious Lee, a second-year percussionist from Olive Branch. “In the two years I’ve been here, we’ve been training on a grass field that gets muddy and attracts bugs when it rains. I’m really excited to train on better ground.

Brandon Mitchell of Meridian said the news seemed almost surreal.

“The idea of ​​a new field of practice has come up from time to time during the six years I’ve been here,” said the graduate assistant, who will receive his master’s degree in music education at award ceremonies. diplomas of May 7. “It’s my last semester, so I won’t be here to enjoy it. Still, I’m happy for everyone behind me and that it’s finally happening.

Dean Lee Cohen said the College of Liberal Arts recognizes and appreciates the efforts of everyone involved and is proud of the growth that is occurring in the Department of Music.

“The Pride of the South marching band is an integral part of the University of Mississippi experience,” Cohen said. “This dedicated set enhances the academic, cultural and sporting atmosphere for students, faculty, alumni and the community.”

Naming opportunities for the new practice area remain available. For more information and to donate, contact Robby Jolly, UM Development Officer, at


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