The Pride of Dayton marches on through COVID-19 struggles, photo courtesy of UD Athletics.
The Pride of Dayton, for those of you who don’t know about us, is the University of Dayton’s marching band, not to be confused with the Flyer Pep Band although we do share a lot of the same members.
Normally you can catch us playing at the football games on Saturday’s, during NSO or on Parent Weekend in Humanities Plaza.
This year was a bit different though. In fact, if you wanted to see us perform you either had to log on to YouTube for one of our video premiers, or stop by Fitz Hall on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday afternoon and watch a practice.
We faced a lot of trials this year starting from the very beginning with scattered move-in causing us to change our band camp dates from a full week to just three days.
Normally band camp is filled with themed days and after-practice activities such as a trip to Young’s Dairy or a game night on K.U. field. This years’s socials had to be spread out throughout the season and they were definitely different than socials in the years past.
It is really hard to get to know everyone in a band as big as POD under normal circumstances which is why while we were on Zoom for the first few weeks break out rooms became so important. We did a lot of group bonding through playing games in breakout rooms and just talking and getting to know each other.
Once we were able to return to in-person classes, we did some outdoor socials where we enjoyed prepackaged food like popsicles or ice cream.
Practices, like our socials, also had to be changed.
When we were on Zoom practices, we did things like learn the words to the alma mater or we’d do our stretching routine since playing in a dorm room or apartment isn’t exactly ideal.
There were a lot of differences for our in-person practices as well, one of the biggest was the space markers on the sideline telling us where we could each individually set our things.
We also had to take turns getting water during practice to avoid being too close together. One of our biggest priorities this season was the safety of everyone involved so these were just a couple of changes we made.
Something else that slightly changed was how we ended rehearsal. Normally we would all stand close together in arcs and sing the alma mater, but this year we had to stand 6 feet apart and play it instead. Masks were also required to be worn at all times unless you were playing, and in that case there was a special cue for instrumentalists to pull their masks down and play.
I have to be honest though, doing color guard in a mask was not nearly as hard as I thought it was going to be. I think it made us work harder as a guard because we really had to use our body language to convey the mood of the music because you couldn’t see our smiles.
Performances were very different this year as well.
As I mentioned earlier. we did not have any live performances this season and everything was filmed. Our media team was a key part in this, they operated the drone, field cameras. and helped with editing everything together.
Filming was quite a process as we would do each piece three times to make sure that the videos we produced were the best visually and audibly. The most normal thing about our filming days was dressing up in our secondary uniforms, I think wearing those helped a lot of us get more in the spirit with performing.
Obviously, doing these video recordings had its challenges. Sometimes it would be too windy for the drone to fly or the hospital helicopter would take off as soon as we would start, but overall I think it was a good experience for everyone involved.
Our season recently came to a close, but during the last week of practice we were able to do our POD Olympics which is a game competition between the sections that usually happens during band camp.
POD Olympics is a very important tradition in POD and I don’t think the season would have felt complete without them.
The band put just as much work in this season if not more than they have in years past and I am really proud of what we accomplished.
If you’re ever interested in seeing how these virtual performances turned out, they are on YouTube for your viewing pleasure and I highly recommend checking them out.