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"Inside the Roost" Radio Show Gets in Step with the Mighty Sound of the Southeast

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By South Carolina Athletics intern Rebecca Duensing

On Monday night's "Inside the Roost" radio show Athletics Director Eric Hyman, Director of Athletic Bands Dr. Rebecca Phillips, and Gamecock Radio's Andy Demetra discussed the new direction of South Carolina's marching band.

"We couldn't be more pleased with what Rebecca Phillips has done with our band in such a short period of time," said Hyman. "I have gotten compliment after compliment, and I want her to know that for years I got criticism after criticism...we're so excited about this point going forward, as far as our band is concerned."

Originally from the Washington, D.C. area, Dr. Phillips has been at Carolina for five years and is in her first year serving as the Director of Athletic Bands.  She has a rich musical background, from her military band family, her time directing high school bands, and her involvement with the upstart of the University of South Florida's marching band program. Before moving into her current position, she taught other subjects in the University of South Carolina School of Music, but said she attended every home game and is a big fan of football and basketball.


Phillips leading the pep band at Volleyball

When asked by Hyman how she felt about her "team," Phillips gushed about how enthusiastic the band is about supporting sports, what good musicians they are, and that they're "pretty smart individuals."  And once you hear what they do in preparation for half-time shows, you're bound to agree.

The band begins preparation for a show two weeks prior. They rehearse Tuesday through Friday for an hour and a half, with members of the Coquettes, Color Guard, and Drum Line putting in additional hours for their extra roles. The first week, they work on the musical aspect and then the week of, Assistant Director of Athletic Bands Jamie Taylor takes the reins to work on the field formations. Taylor is the "man who puts the dots on the page...he makes it so the crowd can actually see the picture," Phillips explained. They aim to have the show together, weather permitting, the Friday before the game, but if not, they finish up Saturday. On gameday, the band arrives six and a half hours prior to kick-off to polish their performance and attend various functions around the stadium area, including the Gamecock Walk.

Dr. Phillips said that a big challenge is retention of students. The band lost about 30 graduating seniors last year, but was able to bring in enough new students to still have an overall increase in numbers. The band is up to 280 members from last year's 248. Phillips shared that, [the band's] goal is to be somewhere between 325 and 350 in the next three years, that's the goal that the President has set up for the band" and agrees that it's a good number to aim for. In terms of recruiting Phillips said that "we're really fortunate...we have some wonderful band directors at both the high school and middle school levels who have developed some wonderful programs, so there is plenty we can do within the state." There are also some out-of-state band members, most coming from Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia but also as far as California. Overall about 30 states are represented in the band.

Phillips and Hyman are both looking forward to next year with the completion of the Farmer's Market renovations. Phillips feels that it is "going to be an incredible opportunity for our fans and give us an on-campus feel," Hyman is most excited for the "sense of tradition."

In regards to the new arrangement of the Fight Song, Phillips felt like moving the C-A-R-O-L-I-N-A spell out cheer to the middle is a natural change that increases fan involvement and has been waiting to have the opportunity to make the move since she arrived here at Carolina.

Dr. Phillips thinks that with the creation of new half-time shows for each home game, the rearranged Fight Song, and the members' enthusiasm, the band can "support what is going on, and hopefully add to the environment of the game."

Make sure to catch "Inside the Roost" every Monday night from 7:00-8:00 p.m. on 107.5 The Game for weekly insight into Gamecock Athletics with Derek Scott and AD Eric Hyman along with weekly guests.

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