School of Music

The Pride of Arizona is on a roll. On Dec. 6, the group won the prestigious Sudler Trophy from the John Philip Sousa Foundation –– known as the Heisman Trophy for college marching bands. Then, just before winter break the marching band received better news –– the fundraising goal to purchase the 263 members new uniforms was met.

The Pride of Arizona will have their new uniforms in time for the kickoff of the 2024 football season.

Thanks to the generosity of band alumni, friends of the program, and the Tucson community at large, the group raised the necessary $100,000 to qualify for matching funds from the Marshall Foundation.

“We cannot wait to debut this new look in the Big-12 Conference,” says Chad Shoopman, the Associate Director of Bands and Director of Athletic Bands. “The band is so grateful to every person who gave toward this initiative. It is truly a community effort.”

The Marshall Foundation provided the opportunity for the $100,000 matching challenge after learning of the band’s need.

“The Marshall Foundation is delighted to be a part of this fundraising effort,” said Bruce Burke, the foundation’s President. “The University’s Pride of Arizona Marching Band holds a special place in the hearts of all Tucsonans.

“Credit for this project’s success goes to our foundation’s recently retired General Manager, Jane McCollum, who had the inspiration to propose a challenge grant. Our gratitude also extends to the community members who embraced the challenge and made this achievement possible.”

Thanks to the Marshall Foundation

“My heartful thanks to the Marshall Foundation for their leadership and commitment to the Pride of Arizona,” said Andy Schulz, dean of the College of Fine Arts and vice president for the arts at the University of Arizona. “We are also very grateful for the contributions of the 250-plus individuals – including Stacie and Jennifer Hudgens — who helped us exceed the matching goal set by the Marshall Foundation.

“The Pride is emblematic of the Arizona Arts core mission to providing meaningful arts experience for all students while also serving the communities of Southern Arizona. Not only does the Pride perform in front of our largest audiences, but the band is also comprised of students majoring in disciplines from every corner of our campus. I can’t wait to see them take the field at Arizona Stadium in their brand-new uniforms!”

In anticipation of a successful fundraising campaign, Shoopman worked closely with industry-leading uniform designer Michael J. Cesario of Fred J. Miller Inc., to create a custom look for the award-winning ensemble. In addition to being durable –– the most recent uniforms lasted well over a decade and survived hundreds, if not thousands, of performances –– the uniforms must also complement the band’s visual performance and reflect the spirit of the university.

“When our students appear anywhere on campus or step onto the field in Arizona Stadium to perform, we want our fans to beam with PRIDE knowing they helped maintain and improve one of the most recognizable brands at the University of Arizona,” says Shoopman, “and with a new conference and our new head football coach, we need to reinforce and reflect that fact that we are a world-class organization. These new uniforms give us one of the critical elements to do that.”

New uniforms are only one part of what is shaping up to be a remarkable 2024 season. In addition to sporting their new look, the Pride will also honor former majorette and long-time twirler coach Shirlee Bertolini for her 70-year affiliation with the group, and there will be an official presentation of the Sudler Trophy by the Sousa Foundation during halftime of an Arizona football game next fall.

Grace Adams, an Environmental Science major, served as the head drum major for the Pride the last three years.

“It is incredibly humbling to see such an outpouring of generosity and support from our community,” said Adams. “The Pride of Arizona has touched the lives and hearts of thousands and is a true testament to the impact that music has on bringing people together. We could not be more grateful to everyone who helped make this happen for the Pride, it’s an honor to perform for such an amazing community here in Tucson, and to know that we are so loved in return!”

The Pride of Arizona was founded in 1902 as an ROTC unit and originally had 12 members. Throughout its history, it has been involved in signature historical events, including being part of the first halftime show at Super Bowl I. Today, the band boasts more than 260 members and represents more than 100 majors at the University of Arizona.

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