The University of Florida Fightin' Gator Marching Band, also known as The Pride of the Sunshine, is the official marching band for the University of Florida. They play at every Florida Gators home football game in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and also performs at various other events such as pep rallies, parades, and the annual Orange and Blue Spring Scrimmage game. A full band usually travels to one away game a year while at other games a small/medium sized pep band will attend. Members of the Gator Band, as well as other University of Florida students, are encouraged to join other ensembles such as concert band, jazz band, basketball band, and volleyball band. The majorettes (twirlers) for the marching band are called the Gatorettes.
History[edit | edit source]
The first band at the University of Florida was founded by "Pug" Hamilton in 1914. It had 16 members and was called "The Cadet Band". The first band office was in Anderson Hall and the first band room was in the Women's Gymnasium. The first woman in Gator Band was Sophy Mae Mitchell of Sebring, Florida in 1948. After marching with the banner in her first year in the band, Mitchell was invited back to play the bell lyre for the remainder of her college career. She frequently returns to the Alumni Band games along with over one hundred other Gator Band alumni. In 1972 Gator Band was featured at the opening of Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL. In 1997 Gator Band participated in the Walt Disney World 25th Anniversary Celebration.
The Steinbrenner Band Hall at the University of Florida was made possible by a generous gift from George Steinbrenner and his wife Joan in 2002. The facility was completed in 2008 and houses the Stephen Stills Band Rehearsal Room in addition to offices, instrument storage, the band library and an instrument issue room.
Director of Bands[edit | edit source]
- 1st Director: "Pug" Hamilton
- 1st Paid: R. Dewitt Brown (1920–1948)
- 2nd Paid: Col. Harold B. Bachman (1948–1958)
- 3rd Paid: Reid Poole (1958–1961)
- 4th Paid: Richard Bowles (1961–1973)
- 5th Paid: Frank Wickes (1973–1980)
- Assistant Director: Gary Langford
- 6th Paid: David Gregory (1980–1982)
- 7th Paid: Gerald Poe (1982–1985)
- 8th Paid: Gary Langford (1985–1987)
- 9th Paid: Dr. David A. Waybright (1987–Present)
- Associate Director of Bands: Gary Langford (1987–1995)
- Assistant Director of Bands: Mark Spede (1990-1996)
- Associate Director of Bands: Rene Rosas (1995–1998) 
- Associate Director of Bands: Matthew Sexton (1998–2006)
- Associate Director of Bands: John M. Watkins, Jr. (2006–Present)
- Assistant Director of Bands: Archie Birkner, IV (2006–Present)
2012 London Summer Olympics[edit | edit source]
The band was invited and accepted to perform in London for the 2012 Summer Olympics. Members of the 2011 band were made aware of the trip during the fall of 2011. The trip is being funded by donors and by payments from individual members. The Pride of the Sunshine will be abroad for nine days and seven nights with several performances and sight-seeing opportunities throughout the trip.
Commitment[edit | edit source]
Course Description[edit | edit source]
MUN1110 and MUN 3110 is a performance course designed to improve individual marching and playing skills, to develop sight-reading skills, to improve the individual’s grasp of the essential elements of music and to assist the student in the personal and professional growth and development necessary for successful post-baccalaureate life. Additionally, this course will provide weekly live performance opportunities for the entire ensemble. It is the focus of this course to make these performances represent the highest level of artistic and aesthetic experience. Further, it is the goal of the Gator Band to provide entertaining halftime shows, and to provide energy and spirit at all events at which the Gator Band performs. Due to the highly visible nature of these performances, participation in all rehearsals and performances is pivotal to the success of the ensemble. Class meets Monday (6:15pm–8:10pm), Tuesday (4:05pm–6:00pm), Thursday (4:05pm–6:00pm), and Friday (4:05pm–6:00pm, for home games only) every week. Though it does not cost anything to join the band, you must have the appropriate uniform. Uniforms rental is free. The band also rehearses on the morning of a home game.
Tradition[edit | edit source]
Pregame[edit | edit source]
As soon as the field is clear the band marches into the Swamp from the entrance tunnel in a pregame block. They take the field opening to the "Gator Chomp," while the Voice of the Gator Band, Gerre Reynolds, announces their entrance.
Gator Band Entrance
From the fanfare block the band plays the fanfare and takes the fight song ("Orange and Blue") down the field, then forms the block "F." Starting the "Men of Florida" march, they move into their ceremonial set, the outline of the state of Florida. From there they play "The Star-Spangled Banner" and the University of Florida's alma mater.
UF Pregame to this point
Finishing the national anthem, the band plays We Are the Boys March to enter into the Gator spellout preset. Next they play "Gimmie a 'G'" while they spell out the word "Gators." Then they play "Orange and Blue" and "Suwannee" to take "Gators" down the field toward the tunnel from which the team enters.
Second half of UF Pregame
In the Stands[edit | edit source]
In the stands, the band plays a large number of school songs, many of them variations of the Jaws theme. The band plays "Gator Chomp," "Gator Bait," and "Gator Maximus" at various points in the game while the team is on defense, and "Let's Go Gators," "Orange and Blue First Down," and "Go Gators" while the team is on offense, among other various songs. Songs like "You Can Call Me Al" and "Hey! Baby" are crowd favorites. The Dragnet theme song (from the radio and television show of that name) is played to signal a penalty made by the opposing team, followed by chants of "you can't do that" and hat waving in imitation of a referee's flag.
Third Quarter[edit | edit source]
Perhaps the most well known tradition of the Gator Band is the playing of We are the Boys at the conclusion of every third quarter. Beginning with a short intro, the band sets the whole crowd into a swaying motion starting with the first words.
End of the Game[edit | edit source]
One of the newest traditions was started by Florida head coach Urban Meyer in 2005. After every game where the Gators win he walks over with the team and the team, band, and fans sing the alma mater and the fight song together and the head coach shakes the director's hand. This tradition has been continued by Will Muschamp, current head coach of the Gators.
Alma Mater and Orange and Blue
Alumni Band[edit | edit source]
The Gator Alumni Band performs during one of the home halftime shows every year and consists of a volunteer group of former members of the Pride of the Sunshine who perform a short segment of the halftime show. The alumni band is most well known for the "Biggest Boom in Dixie", a very large bass drum that is carted onto the field during the show. At some games, mascots Albert and Alberta have played the drum as well.
Gatorettes[edit | edit source]
The Gatorettes are the baton-twirlers of The Pride of the Sunshine, and they perform acrobatics, cartwheels, and flips, and sometimes twirl multiple batons at one time. Their current director is June Stoeber, and under her direction the Gatorettes have won 5 national collegiate titles.
The Gatorettes perform at Florida Gators football half-time shows, and they also compete at national events. In 2002, they won three NBTA national titles. In 2008, they also won two NBTA national titles as well. In 201,1 they won a NBTA national title.
Kappa Kappa Psi[edit | edit source]
The Alpha Eta chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi has been providing service to the University of Florida band programs since 1931. The Alpha Eta brothers have issued, cleaned and organized the uniforms and are currently responsible for providing water during rehearsals, setting orange cones for practice, cleaning the field, and distributing Gatorade on Gamedays. Since its installation, the Alpha Eta chapter has crossed over 1,000 members into the organization, including women in recent years.
Tau Beta Sigma[edit | edit source]
The Beta Xi chapter of Tau Beta Sigma provides service to the Gator Bands, including the Pride of the Sunshine. The Beta Xi sisters currently help the UF marching band by lining the practice field with yard lines, hash marks and number boxes. The sisters also hand out a snack after the halftime performance at football games. Hundreds of dedicated men and women have become sisters of the Beta Xi chapter since the chapter was installed April 12, 1958. In the Spring of 2004, the first male sisters were initiated into the chapter. The sisters of Beta Xi have also extended an honorary invitation to dozens of outstanding individuals of the Gator Band, including previous directors and graduate students. In 1999, the chapter initiated Sophy Mae Mitchell, one of the first group of women to join the Pride of the Sunshine and a founding member of the club which later became the Beta Xi chapter.