It may be a love of music that attracts students to Troy University’s Sound of the South Marching Band, but it is the bonds formed during the countless hours of rehearsing and performing that keeps the band’s alumni coming back year after year to perform in the Alumni Band.
Those former Sound of the South members took to the field at Veterans Memorial Stadium on Saturday in what, for many band alums, has become an annual tradition.
“I continue to participate and serve the alumni band because, first it’s a great way to stay connected to old friends and teammates,” said Lauren Smith Chandler, a majorette from 2005-2008 and captain in 2007 and 2008. “Second, I like to be a part of a great organization that gives back to the students. When I was an active SOTS member, I received the Alumni Band Endowed Scholarship, and I felt very thankful for that and I know there was a group of people working hard to provide that scholarship for me back then. I look at this as my opportunity to keep scholarships, connections and the Trojan spirit alive.”
Stephanie Milam Martinez, who traveled from Louisiana to take the field on Saturday, marched in the band from 1989 to 1993, playing flute and also piccolo during her time with the Sound of the South. After 1993, she became a spectator, watching her first husband, Jeff Coslan perform with the band and earn his bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
“Being part of this program has enriched my life beyond my ability to imagine and explain,” Martinez said. “I will forever get that knot in my throat, the quivering chin, the crying eyes and the pounding of my heart when I reflect on the many blessings that I continue to receive just from the first best decision I made as a young adult to begin my future by applying to Troy University and signing up to be in the Sound of the South. I love Troy, the University, the SOTS, the literally thousands of friendships made and most of all, the group of us members who met and married. Though divorced, my sons are another link to my TROY SOTS journey and are my greatest accomplishments.”
Martinez is proud to be active in the Troy University Band Alumni chapter.
“I don’t pay my alumni dues just to play in the alumni band,” she said. “It is a privilege to be a member of TUBA, and I pray before my life expires, I can donate something financially memorable because my love, respect and appreciation for its cause is worth it to me. I am surrounded by friends that are LSU, University of Louisiana, University of Louisiana Monroe, and University of New Orleans fans, but I assure you they all know my love for TROY and it is respected.”
Tim Sims came to TROY and joined the Sound of the South in 1985, playing the tuba. He served as section leader in 1986 and was band captain in 1987.
“Dr. Johnny Long taught us that you spell band F-U-N,” Sims said. “I think music is the bond that brings us all together. And, when participating with Alumni Band, whether you are 54, as I am, or 24, you can still get your instrument out and play. Or, you can come be a part of an auxiliary (color guard, majorette or dance line).”
Dawn Railey was a member of the Sound of the South from 1976 through 1980. For Railey, becoming a part of the band seemed like destiny fulfilled.
“I was destined to be in the SOTS as I grew up next door to Dr. Long and his family,” she said. “His daughter, Deborah Lynn, taught me about color guard. One of his favorite stories to tell at the beginning of band camp, much to my mortification, was how Deborah Lynn and I would march up and down Homewood Avenue with our two dogs in tow.”
Railey said she formed bonds during her time in the band that are just as strong today.
“Many of the friends I made then are still my dearest friends to this day,” she said. “There is a bond about being in this band that transcends the years. When my niece Allyson was on the first dance line – she called me after her first rehearsal. She told me that she finally understood what we meant when we talked about the Fanfare. Hearing it from the stands is one thing, but standing right in front of 300 musicians is something else altogether. I can’t imagine not having had this experience.”
The Sound of the South has become a bit of family tradition within Railey’s family. Six other family members have followed Railey in donning the Sound of the South uniform — Tim Pearce, Melanie Railey Pearce, Allyson Railey, Matthew Pearce, Meaghan Pearce Sanders and Cada Railey.
“I have always loved being a part of this band,” Railey said.