BAND, ON THE RUN

The Pride of the Mountains gets in shape for the Rose Parade

By BILL STUDENC MPA ’10

Members of the Pride of the Mountains Marching Band are hard at work practicing and rehearsing in preparation for their 2010 field show, “Rock U,” and for the music they will be performing in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif., on New Year’s Day. But they’re also putting in some time in the gym and on campus jogging trails to get in condition for the nearly eight miles of marching they’ll be doing Jan. 1.

Members of the Pride of the Mountains are hitting the jogging
track and pumping iron in the Campus Recreation Center to be
ready for 7.5 miles of marching in Pasadena on New Year’s Day.

“Although we incorporate a lot of movement into our halftime shows, it’s limited to 10 minutes, within the confines of a football field,” said Bob Buckner ’67, director of the Pride of the Mountains. “Marching seven and a half miles is another thing altogether, and it’s a big difference when you’re lugging around a 50-pound drum or sousaphone.”

That’s why the band is enlisting the assistance of the Campus Recreation Center to help develop conditioning plans for the marching musicians. “We always kick things off at band camp by providing basic fitness and nutrition tips, and that is on the agenda this year,” said Kellie Angelo Monteith, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs. “The campus recreation and wellness staff are ready to help the band members however we can so they are ready to represent the university with pride during the rigors of the long march.”

In addition, band students on campus over the summer organized their own activities ranging from group walking sessions by the Color Guard to ultimate Frisbee competitions by the trumpet section, Buckner said. And while members of the Pride are doing sit-ups and crunches, staff coordinators Billie Jeanne Curns and Adam Stewart have been crunching the numbers to calculate the total number of miles the band will march in 2010-11.

“We had been talking about getting pedometers for the band this year, and we became curious about how far we thought the band would march in a season,” said Stewart, a senior from Rockwell. “We started with what we expected a regular practice would contain, and let the numbers grow from there.”

By the time the Pride of the Mountains finally gets a chance to put up its collective feet on the flight back from California, it will have hiked for a grand total of – drum roll from Purple Thunder, please – 92,388 miles. “This is the same as if the band were to march along the N.C. state perimeter 71 times, go from Cullowhee to Pasadena 39 times, walk the Great Wall of China 16 times, or march around the Earth three and a half times,” said Curns, a senior from Hayesville. “We were blown away by the numbers we finally found.”

“That’s a lot of ground to be covered during the next few months,” Buckner said. “That’s why we are encouraging our students to exercise at least two miles a day on the three days a week we don’t have official band activities, whether it’s walking around campus in between classes, working out in the gym, or getting involved in games with their section.”

In reality, those numbers are actually a little low, said Matt Henley ’93 MA ’95, assistant band director. In the wake of the band’s selection for the Rose Parade, student interest has skyrocketed, and this year’s Pride of the Mountains will contain a whopping 446 members (at press time) – the 380-person Pasadena-bound Gold Band full exhibition unit, and 66 alternate members in the Purple Band. “The growth of the band is just absolutely insane,” Henley said. “Splitting it into Gold and Purple units was the only way we can accommodate everyone. But as problems go, it’s a good one to have.”

For the latest information on the Pride of the Mountains Marching Band’s trip to Pasadena, visit www.prideofthemountains.com. For information about corporate sponsorship to help the band defray the cost of the trip, contact Chris Mueller at 828.227.3052 or clmueller@wcu.edu.