I'm with the band
A lot has changed since the 1980s. Cassette tapes have been boxed away, New Coke has disappeared from the shelves, and buzz cuts are trendier than big hair.
One thing that has retained its luster, especially on campus, is the University of Dayton Pride of Dayton Marching Band. My dad, John Sutton ’85, can easily point out the parallels between today’s band and the band he knew and loved four decades ago.
For as long as I can remember, my dad would tell stories of his experiences in Pride of Dayton with a gleam in his eye and a smile on his face. He would tell crazy stories about his friends and chaotic band trips. Most of all, he remembered the music.
To my dad, there was nothing cooler than the band strutting out onto the field to play songs like “Long Train Runnin’” by the Doobie Brothers, “Hello Again” by Neil Diamond, and “In the Stone” by Earth, Wind and Fire, which has become a staple in Pride of Dayton’s repertoire and one of my personal favorites as well.
“Some of my dad’s stories sounded too good to be true.”
Some of my dad’s stories sounded too good to be true, so upon committing to UD, I joined the Pride of Dayton immediately. While there are similarities in our experiences, POD would go on to exceed my expectations.
The band has retained its fun-loving spirit despite some microevolutions over the years. For example, in my dad’s time, the band was referred to as “The Pride,” while we currently call ourselves POD, a name that took him some time to get used to. And we have switched from the Doobie Brothers to the Jonas Brothers.
Throughout the ’70s and ’80s, the band had an annual performance called the “Last Blast,” which was an epic final presentation of the season. According to a news release I found in the archives from 1982, the band would perform various songs from their halftime shows in a free concert at the UD Arena, along with dances by the Flyerettes and impressive twirling routines.
There was a group of men called the “Groaning Groins,” which was aptly described as “a group ‘of males, by males, and for males,’ to display their musical and physical prowess” in the Daytonian 1983 yearbook. We do not have anything remotely close to that in POD today, but I would not be surprised if some members of the men’s music fraternity, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, resurrected that tradition.
One of my dad's band directors, Timothy Swinehart, made the band feel like one big family — a fact also stated in the yearbook. Years later, former bandmates remain close. One of Dad’s favorite parts of the year is Bandcoming, where he can see band alumni and relive wonderful memories during a campus reunion.
“I am so grateful for the relationships I have formed and the incredible friends I have made.”
I have also found POD to be one big family, and I am so grateful for the relationships I have formed and the incredible friends I have made. Some of my best and closest friends I met during the first week of band camp last year, which was one of the best weeks of my life.
I realize that I am furthering a tradition that meant so much to my dad. After years of hearing about his love for college band, I finally understand the pure joy it is to be a part of the Pride of Dayton. Joining POD was one of the best decisions I have ever made, and I intend to keep it in my life for as long as I can.
As we prepare for our 2022 season and trip to Chicago for the Thanksgiving Day Parade, I know that we will do what we do best and do it with pride. Yeah POD!