Decked out in his Sound of the South colors, he shuffles between his parents as his grandfather, Jim Knight, beams.
“None of this was expected,” says Knight, a 1972 TROY graduate and former Sound of the South member who is the patriarch of a three-generation Sound of the South family. “When I got here, there were 120 of us – three busses. I remember Dr. Ralph Adams climbing on the back of a pickup truck my first year and telling us he had got Dr. Johnny Long to be our band director and Billy Atkins to be our coach, and through that he was going to get alumni money and start changing the way this University looked.”
Between Knight and Hunter Lawrence stands Sallie Lawrence, Hunter’s mother and Knight’s daughter.
She swore she wouldn’t follow in her dad’s footsteps when she graduated high school. She was tired of band, tired of being “Dr. Knight’s daughter,” and wanted to forge her own path.
Before long, though, she felt a calling to TROY.
“I wanted to do my own thing, but he kept telling me just to try it for a quarter and see how it went,” Sallie says, chuckling as she points to her father. “At registration, I decided I’d try. It was the best decision I ever made.”
Knight remembers the surprise and the pride that followed Sallie’s announcement.
“It was sort of a surprise when she came home and said, ‘I signed up for band,’” Knight recalls. “It was exciting when she came up here. We tried to make it to as many games as we could.”
Sallie, who graduated in 1993, met lifelong friends in the Sound of the South, most importantly her husband. She also learned under Long, the professor who’d had such an impact on her father a generation earlier.
“The memories of Dr. Long and the lessons he imparted on us – the Longisms – will last a lifetime,” she says. “Our memories here are incredible. And they continue.”
That continuation has come in the form of her son, Hunter, a freshman at TROY who also had given up band at one point.
He chose not to participate in band his junior and senior year of high school, but when he came to TROY, he listened to his mother and grandfather’s memories and made a decision.
“I just felt like if I joined the band here, I’d make new friends, make new memories and have great experiences,” he says. “It’s been amazing. We’ve been on a few trips, like to South Alabama and different band competitions, and it’s been fun just hanging out and being on the bus.”
The three generations share a love and admiration for their alma mater, and they pause moments before kickoff to consider whether there will be a fourth generation of Sound of the South participation.
“Hopefully,” Hunter says with a smile before heading back to join his friends in the stands at Veterans Memorial Stadium.