For the Love of the Game-
“In a region where fans bleed their team’s colors- fall’s favorite game still takes our breath away. I know why I love it. It goes back to nights in Paul Snow Stadium, when the Fighting Gamecocks of Jacksonville State whipped Troy…We never looked away at halftime. With a great pounding of drums and sounding of brass, the Marching Southerners, in perfect step, would sweep onto the grass. They played music from our history…And the beautiful Marching Ballerinas, in red velvet, kicked those white boots high in the air. Why do we love football? How could we not?” Rick Bragg, Alabama author
In Alabama, football season is sacriligious-ly sacred. It is considered tacky and inconsiderate, to get married during football season. If you feel you must ‘fly away’ – please stay on life support until after football season, otherwise please note: funerals can be delayed so as not to inconvenience football fans. If a southern lady is in the family way and told her due date coincides with football season, the gynecologist is made to understand that labor must be induced well ahead of the tailgate party. That’s just the way it is.
We teach our children to speak softly and courteously with one exception: ‘You can yell your heart out at football games!‘ In Alabama, our children know how important the Iron Bowl is and you won’t find it in the china cabinet! We expect our children from infancy to love football, watch football and participate in football- whether it is on the field, on the sidelines or in the stands- and by that I mean:
- Play Football, be a trainer or be a water boy
- Be a cheerleader or in a pep squad
- Participate in a Marching Band!
Everyone knows Alabama’s football teams spawn Heisman Trophy Winners and National Championships! But did you know that the ‘Best Band in America’ is right here in Alabama? Yes, it is. The band became famous on it’s own, then Alabama writer Rick Bragg extolled the JSU Marching Southerners in his book- ‘It’s All Over but the Shouting’ and continues to do so as a columnist for Southern Living Magazine. If you don’t think Jacksonville State’s football program- a recent National Football Champion in their division and the Marching Southerners are intertwined- just watch this:
I am a Marching Southerner parent- with 6 years of some of the most exciting performances I have ever seen on the field, at a Broadway Show or concert, I consider it to be a privilege beyond measure. Even if the football team wasn’t winning- the Marching Southerners were! I was actually a band parent for 14 years- starting in junior high, high school and all the way through their college years. What marching band does for students is nothing short of amazing – they learn the life lessons of being on time, having your instrument and clothes in order, being prepared, working as a team, learning music– which will stay with them for a lifetime. Unlike sports, you don’t ‘age out’ as a musician. And- marching band students learn – Mathematics, Sociology, Foreign Languages, Physical Education and History! When my children were in high school, we first became acquainted with the power of the Marching Southerners at band festivals. The Southerners were the exhibition band- inspiring teenaged musicians to play and play well-watching stunning performances which were not half time shows! That’s what the Southerners do- their motto is ‘Changing lives one show at a time’. The current Director of Bands is Dr. Ken Bodiford, he started out at JSU playing a big tuba, called a 20J- these instruments weigh 55 pounds!
The drum line is legendary, and though never confirmed or denied, the movie, Drum Line- was reported to have used JSU Marching Southerners as one of their ‘reference’ bands! I could go on and on- the brass section, the clarinets, the Marching Ballerinas- all are precision based and these are the musicians and music educators of the future! Students from all over the region, the United States and beyond play for this marching band! The Marching Southerners will celebrate their 60th anniversary this year! So, to honor that and also to give you a wonderfully loud taste of the South- please watch as much as you dare of the 1999 Bands of America Grand Nationals performance- there are many more up to date- but only a few videos in which both of my beautiful daughters are on the field! Blow Southerners! Blow! Love y’all, Camellia
Congratulations to Dr. Ken Bodiford, Director of Bands, JSU Marching Southerners on 23 years of directing the finest band program in America!
Rick Bragg Southern Journal – http://southernliving.com/community
‘All Over but the Shouting’ by Rick Bragg is available at Amazon.com and major booksellers
Southern Living magazine- http://southernliving.com
Drum Line- the movie is also available on Amazon.com