Chances are, when you hear the name The Pride of Oklahoma, “Boomer Sooner” plays on repeat in your head for hours. The University of Oklahoma's essential ingredient in creating Sooner Magic lies within its nothing-short-of-spectacular marching band.
The proud tradition of the Pride includes providing the Sooner Nation with the necessary tracks to get them in the game-day spirit, but there's more to this crew than meets the ear (Oh, yeah, we went there).
The Pride has its own unique set of lore, trivia and traditions to rival any team on campus. From prepping recruits for the intensity of a game-day stadium to invoking Sooner Magic through relentless repetition of “Boomer Sooner,” this marching band’s offbeat quirks prove the Pride is anything but ordinary.
1. The Day the Pride Won Bedlam
Perhaps the most legendary story to come out of the Pride is this. In 1983 (Pride Director Brian Britt's freshman year as a member of the band) during the Bedlam game against Oklahoma State University, the Sooners were behind 20-3. The Pride was not discouraged — no, sir. It took to rallying the spirits of the team and fans by playing "Boomer Sooner" for nearly an hour and a half. The Sooners came back with a win of 21-20. Revered OU football coach Barry Switzer showed his thanks to the band the following Monday by presenting the group with the gameday ball. This Bedlam would go down as the one the Pride won.
2. Oh, It's a Thriller
Did we mention the Pride is also a minor Internet celebrity? No? Well, we will have you know the 2007 halftime performance at the Texas A&M game is the stuff of synchronized marching legend. The performance of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" is a favorite among fans and has been repeated by demand. Take a look for yourself. That’s some fine thrilling.
3. Multitude of Majors
Pride members come from all over campus and are as diverse as the instruments they play. Last year the Pride represented 84 different academic majors. That’s a lot of different textbooks to be carried by these multitalented go-getters. (Btw, did you know they're all equipped with iPads now?)
4. Putting in the Time
During prime season, the Pride rehearses six to eight hours during the week. That may not sound too bad, but remember these students add practice into their already-busy course loads and social lives. Don’t feel bad, though; they're having a good time. “It takes time, but we have fun with it and it doesn’t feel like it's a huge time commitment,” says David Rudolph, a senior trumpet player and chemical bioscience major.
5. It’s Loud - Like REALLY Loud
What? We can’t hear you! Or that’s what we would expect to say after running onto the field to begin a pregame performance. Band members say although they try to prep recruits for the intensity of stepping out on the stadium field, nothing can quite ready them for the amazing experience of being greeted by hordes of fans. These guys brave nerves and butterflies to deliver flawless performances time and again. In the past, leaders clamored with megaphones during rehearsals to mimic the uproar of a crowded stadium. Now that's dedication.
6. Game Day Send-Offs
If you think prepping for a game day as a fan can be a long ordeal, image what it's like for a member of the band. Early-morning games usually call for a 5 a.m. (or earlier) report time. The day includes rehearsal, a parade and playing for the game and halftime show. Sections usually meet before the game and perform their own special warmup song that fans around the stadium are welcome to listen to. We hear the trombones are fond of “Lowrider” and the saxophones can work out an Irish jig.
7. That Silly Walk is Called 'The Strut'
What's that thing the Pride of Oklahoma drum major does as he goes down the field holding his game-day mace? You know, that thing? Well, it's not called "that silly walk," as 2015 drum major Kyle Mattingly tells us. It's not called "the funny walk" or "the back bend," either. It's actually called "the strut." What's not up for debate is that the strut, the silly walk, the back bend — whatever you choose to call it — is a Sooner tradition that fans can't get enough of.