Over 250 students in the Pride of Arizona assemble on and off the football field to show students that they shouldn’t feel alone in their journey through college.
With its award-winning Pom Line, "cheerful" team of color guards and "powerful" marching band, the Pride of Arizona creates the ideal blend of audio and visual entertainment, according to Chad Shoopman, director of the Pride of Arizona marching band.
Shoopman is beginning his third year as director. Since the start of his career, he has focused on teaching his students not just music but also community values and significant life lessons.
He said he aims to convey the message of togetherness to all students at the first football game of the 2018 season and throughout the year.
“I find that many students talk about anxiety and being without self-confidence,” Shoopman said. “This is our way of saying you are not alone. You have a mirror in this world [through us].”
To demonstrate this, the Pride will perform a cover of Justin Timberlake’s "Mirrors" as its first half-time show. It will perform the rest of its set throughout the season.
“There is always an inner lesson that we teach as a band … One of them is that there is somebody in this band that has walked your path,” Shoopman said. “Having that reflection, someone that you can look at and turn to, that is what we build on.”
His interpretation of Timberlake’s "Mirrors" will be reflected in the visuals of the performance. This would all be impossible, however, without the devoted student members of the band, according to Shoopman, who all trained "vigorously" in summer Band Camp to bring that vision to life.
“We recruit about 110 freshmen, 75 sophomores, 40 juniors and 40 seniors across 60 different majors. Because we are so diverse, we hope each member’s experience with POA educates, elevates and enriches them so that they learn how different people think and work,” Shoopman said.
Recruitment begins with registration on the Pride of Arizona's website, followed by auditions.
A variety of openings are available to students each year. There are roughly 24 slots open for Pom Line, 20 to 30 for Color Guard and 29 for Drumline, according to Shoopman. Openings for wind instruments are split into different sections and dependent upon the demands of the band.
RELATED: 'Eclectic' lineup for HOCO 2018
POA performs not only at football games, but also at UA presidential events and band competitions such as Band Day. The team commences their training with events such as Band Camp two weeks prior to the start of fall classes.
“One thing I love about training is that everyone is held to the same standard. Whether you’re a fifth-year senior or rookie, you’re expected to play and march at the same level,” said Thomas Gonzalez, assistant director of marching percussion.
Training continues throughout the semester on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Members are expected to dedicate 12 hours per week to rehearsal and training in order to ensure quality performances. Auxiliary and instrument sections initially train separately, coming together to rehearse later on.
According to Anthony Hand, a senior studying music education and a former four-year member of POA, “the rigorous work is rewarded with performing at Band Day, Battle of the Bands (UA vs. ASU), high school exhibitions and bowl games.”
Members that annually renew their membership with the band have the opportunity to audition for leadership positions as section leaders.
“Leadership positions open every year and the reason students take them on is because it is always about the group," Shoopman said. "We recruit leaders that want to give back in a positive way.”
Section leaders direct the rehearsal within their segment of assigned members and supervise marching band equipment. According to Shoopman, the leadership positions in UA band provide students with the managerial skills that employers look for.
The Pride of Arizona offers a variety of opportunities in music and a sense of community to its members. According to Gonzalez, “being a part of [POA] has such a profound effect on your college career and being able to start your first day of classes with 250 friends makes the transition from high school to college much easier.”
Follow Daily Wildcat on Twitter