Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

August 22, 2013

Band alum happy with OU traditions

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat — Some traditions just aren’t going to get messed with, including the pregame routines of the University of Oklahoma marching band as it revs up the Owen Field crowd before each home game in Norman.

For one band alumni now leading the musical charge here in Pauls Valley, it’s probably a good thing OU officials decided against pregame changes for the Pride of Oklahoma.

PV’s band director Drew Etheredge knows his stuff when it comes to the Pride marching band. He was a member of it from 1999 until his last on-field performance at the Sugar Bowl in January 2004.

“That pregame show is what made me want to go to OU,” Etheredge said.

“When I was a kid and I saw that for the first time I thought that was so cool. I thought I want to do that one day,” he said.

“That pregame show and the tradition of the band is the reason, I know for a fact, why a lot of people go there. It’s a staple to attending a game and seeing the Pride.”

Over the past few days there’s been a big public outcry from Sooner football fans adamantly opposing any changes to the band’s pregame routine, especially to the Fanfare portion at the start.

“I heard there were going to be some pretty significant changes to the start of the pregame show; some pretty big changes to Fanfare,” Etheredge said.

“When you’re talking about a tradition that’s been going for about 40 years there’s a lot of people sensitive to it being changed.”

He believes first year Pride director Justin Stolarik was not the only person looking to make a few changes to the pregame rituals, including a jazzier start to the Fanfare portion.

Etheredge remembers the whole thing all too well as a former member of the band.

It starts with the drum line coming onto the OU field and starting a traditional cadence while leading the remaining band out.

They then start to play Fanfare launching into the “Oklahoma” song and the traditional strut down the field by the band’s drum major as the entire band sweeps from one end to the other before later interlocking in the “OU” formation.

It looks like those routines will stay in place as news came out this week OU officials announced there won’t be any of the planned changes.

Etheredge admits he’s happy there won’t be any big changes to the traditional pregame show.

“I was sad when I heard it was going to change, but I was also not going to be quick to judge,” he said. “I have tickets to the first game and I was willing to give it a chance.

“If they had made the changes I think there would have been a lot of people at that first game scratching their heads wondering what was going on.

“You’ve got to be sensitive to tradition. That’s what I’ve been with my job here in Pauls Valley.”

The current OU band now set to keep its routines also has a Garvin County connection as two former students from both Pauls Valley and Elmore City-Pernell are current members and from what Etheredge said “are having a blast.”

He also announced for the third time in the last few years the Pride marching band will make a stop in Pauls Valley on its way down to Dallas, Texas for the traditional OU-Texas game in the Cotton Bowl.

More will come later as that stop is expected to happen on Oct. 11 at the PVHS football stadium.