My name is Spencer Smith and I am a 3rd Year member of the Pride of Oklahoma and one of the co-section leaders of the Drumline. I’m originally from South Dakota, and before you all freak out with the “How the heck did you get down here,” questions, I’ll explain myself. I was born here in Oklahoma City back in 1995 and moved to be closer to family when I was three years old. Growing up, my parents always told me where I was born and I grew up loving OU. Even when my parents never really kept up with the Sooners, I still remember watching AD run ramped his freshmen year, the Oregon game that we got snubbed out of, and (unfortunately) the Boise State game. I started drumline shenanigans when I was in the 5th grade after I watched the movie “Drumline.” For the many people that ask, no, that is not how it really is. But as soon as I realized there was a drumline at OU, I knew that’s where I was going no matter what I had to sacrifice. When I was in the 8th grade I made my first return trip to Norman during Sam’s Heisman campaign and run to the national championship and even made a quick trip back the following spring to be on the “Read Y’all” campaign poster with Jason White! (I even got to carry the Heisman trophy!) Fast forward to my senior year, I went all in for OU. They were the only school I applied to and audition for because I felt that if I didn’t go there, I’d just be sought as a “wannabe.”
So here I am, three years in and now a section leader for the drumline. After the past two years, this year has definitely been the most fun and enjoyable. Sometimes I sort of have to take a step back and realize what I do every Saturday IS NOT typical. Attending EVERY OU game for the past 3 years is not typical. Getting to do something I love WHILE attending every OU game for the past three years is not typical. Leading some of the most dedicated and hard-working people while getting to do something I love and at the same time attending every OU game for the past three years isn’t just not typical, it truly is unbelievable. The rush I get every pre-game performance I am apart of for 85,000 people is something I wish everyone got to experience. Not only is it euphoric in a sense, but it’s something that every person that has ever gotten a chance to do it will reassure you that it never truly gets old. While some may think that being in the band consists mostly of the just playing “Boomer Sooner,” there is a lot that we do behind the scenes to not only play Boomer Sooner, but also give the fans in the stadium and those watching on TV the best possible performance we can each and every time we play.
Game day for the band starts typically 7-8 hours before kickoff. So when your complaining about those 11 am kickoffs, just think about the almost 300 people involved with the Pride of Oklahoma who are at rehearsal at 5:30… A.M.! We’ll rehearse for 2 hours to pursue perfection on each and every note and step taken during pre-game and halftime. Whether it’s week one or week thirteen, our drive to be better each time we do something doesn’t change. It’s a constant grind to be better than the last rep. After our rehearsal, the drumline moves equipment into the stadium for halftime and heads over to Catlett Music Center. Here is where we’ll get some type of food and water. For 11 AM kickoffs, the drumline doesn’t have a whole lot of time to move equipment, eat, change, and get down to campus corner for our annual pre-game pep gig (this is why 7 pm kickoffs are best, but we’ll still take the 2:30 too!). After we are changed, we walk down to campus corner to play for the best fans in the country and help get all of Sooner Nation charged up. From campus corner, we move on to the parade over to the lawn of Wagner Hall to play our pre-game concert. This concert consists of “Oklahoma!” and whatever halftime show music we happen to be playing that week. From there, we move on to the rest of the parade into the stadium with boomer sooner seemingly on repeat. Once we are into the stadium, we get our drum stand set up and prepped for the duration of the game and proceed to get hyped for pre-game. The drumline has a completely different way of doing things from the rest of the band and it’s seen by the drumline has sort of a ritual of sorts. It’s on to pre-game after that which is, as I stated earlier, one of the most exhilarating experiences anyone will ever get a chance to do. One Oklahoma!, OU Chant, the opposing team’s fight song, Oklahoma Hail, star-spangled banner, boomer sooner, OK Oklahoma later, we finally get to bring four quarters of relentless energy into the stands and through the speakers of your TV if your at home and the game is on. As per the usual, we always do a halftime show during home games. Works ranging from “Moves Like Jagger” to “Pinball Wizard,” we always hope to bring a unique halftime experience for those of you that DON’T have to use the latrine or go get a bowl full of loaded nachos. 11-12 hours after we first started our day, after the game is over and the Sooners have gotten the W, we move to do a post-game concert. By this time, everyone is so glad that were almost done for the day. Exhausted both mentally and physically, we know the end is near for the day, giving us a sort of “flight” aspect of the fight-or-flight mechanism. See mom, I DO learn something at college!
Moral of the story: game days are grueling, fast paced, and energy intensive. I know for fans it’s grueling to have to wake up early and get “charged up,” as a certain Bob Stoops would say, but a lot of people just think all the band does is play Boomer 100 times a game. Side note: we played it 110 times at Tennessee, call it the Okies version of Rocky Top. Regardless of rain, sun, cold, hot, what people don’t see is the hours of rehearsal each day to put together halftime shows and our traditional pre-game that Sooner Nation can be proud of. At the end of the day, no matter what the weather is, how much I want to pull my hair out because I feel like there’s not enough time in the day to get everything I need to done or how tired I may get, being in the Pride of Oklahoma is something that has given me some of the most unique experiences, lifelong friends and memories, and taught me some of the greatest lessons that, unfortunately, you just can’t be taught in a classroom.