About 135 new members of Troy University’s Sound of the South Marching Band officially became members of the band on Saturday, Sept. 3, when they received their individual uniform medallions from Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins Jr.
The ceremony, held in Claudia Crosby Theater prior to the Trojans’ first home game against Austin Peay, is a Sound of the South tradition begun in the early 1990s under the leadership of then-Director of Bands Robert W. Smith.
“In my opinion it’s one of the greatest traditions of college bands anywhere in the country,” said Director of Bands Dr. Mark Walker. “The Chancellor personally gives each new student their medallion and it’s a special thing that says a lot about Dr. Hawkins’ commitment to the band and his love and support of the band.”
The roughly four-inch round, six-pointed star medallion is custom made. Walker says there are none like it anywhere else in the country, and they aren’t available to anyone who isn’t in the band. After four years of being in the band, SOTS members get to keep their medallions as a keepsake. Those who don’t make four years, don’t get to keep the medallion.
“This is hugely important to the band members,” Walker said. “It’s the symbol of fraternity – the camaraderie, the togetherness – of being a member of the Sound of the South.”
Dr. Hawkins said he places emphasis on the ceremony not to just welcome new band members, but so that they can understand the important role the band plays in the life of the University.
“The members do this because they love music and they love the camaraderie and love being a part of something bigger than themselves,” he said. “When (former band director) Dr. Johnny Long established this band more than 40 years ago, I think he knew he was helping to build a great tradition at TROY. Literally, it’s in his honor that I want these students to recognize the importance of their role.”
It was Long who also hung SOTS with its moniker, “the Best Band in the Land,” and Dr. Hawkins said that the University’s largest student organization is a “lasting brotherhood.”
“Once you’re a member of the Sound of the South, you’re always a member,” he said. “I think these students will reflect upon this day with great appreciation because it’s this day that they are officially a member of that ‘Best Band in the Land’ – the Sound of the South.”