All of the Pride's magical sounds, rhythmic beats and intricate marching formations are made possible by the hard work the team puts in during practice. As legendary football coach Vince Lombardi once said, “Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.”
And they’ve accomplished it all with no real home of their own. Years ago, the band practiced on the Downtown area of campus near the Mountainlair; a few decades ago, practices began in the parking lot next to the Coliseum, which has some disadvantages and few benefits.
“We’ve got a nice surface that is never muddy or anything else,” said Scott C. Tobias, band director. “But we have the lights and the heat of the day on the asphalt, not to mention that hard surface on the feet and the knees, and the wear and tear of moving around on that.”
The Mountaineer Marching Band will soon have the perfect place for perfect practice: the Pride Practice Facility. Following the WVU baseball team’s move to University Town Center, its former baseball field – Hawley Field on the Evansdale area of campus – will undergo a transformation to become a state-of-the-art practice facility.
“We are trying to move to a place where the marching surface is more similar to what we march on, on game days.” Tobias said. “In this case, it's going to be exact. It will be an artificial turf, just like we have in the stadium.”
The project is planned to be in two phases, with the first entailing the installation of the ground turf and lighting work in the facility. The artificial turf field will have markings similar to the ones at Milan Puskar Stadium, including the Flying WV in the middle and the same yard line markings. The second phase will involve additional funding to help erect a 3,000 to 4,000 square-foot building beside the field.
“We're not actually having to put a lot of work into the lighting because the baseball field had lights in place for night games. So, we're able to reuse that lighting,” Tobias said. “The first phase will just basically be the installing of that field. People may think that's no big deal, but there's a lot of prep work that goes into putting an artificial turf field in there with drainage and everything else.”
Because weather conditions have a great effect on the band’s equipment, the new facility will include a climate-controlled building with enough space to store instruments, uniforms, equipment like drum major ladders, as well as water coolers and everything else the band needs to perform. It will also feature a loading dock where trucks can load and unload equipment.
“Logistically, it's going to be nice for us to have an area where we can store that equipment,” Tobias said. “We're not going to be worried about having to do a lot of repairs and having to do a lot of upkeep because the equipment will be well taken care of in storage. I'm excited to not have to worry about that quite as much.”
This new facility is great news for the Pride, as all focus can now be on making their heartfelt music and entertaining the fans.
“From a student standpoint, when they see alums, donors and the University investing in something to help them be more successful, it goes a little bit beyond the actual facility,” Tobias added. “It means they’re valued. It means they’re important. When all these different demographic groups want to invest in you, there’s this double level of excitement.”