Four Park Scholars March with the “World’s Most Dangerous Marching Band”

By: Autumn Phillips

NC State’s marching band, The Power Sound of the South® (also known as “the world’s most dangerous marching band”) performs at University events for student-athletes and fans. And this year, there are four Park Scholars in the band, one from each cohort! We talked to these musicians about their favorite parts of marching in the band and how they manage to balance it all. 

Molly Sue Smith, Class of 2026
Major: Social Work
Hometown: Robbins, NC
Instrument: Trumpet

“I joined the marching band because my older sister just finished her last semester in the NC State Power Sound of the South. I won’t lie, I had many doubts throughout high school about whether I wanted to continue band into college. But, after watching her form the friendships she has and go on the adventures she has had, all because of her involvement in band, I had all the influence I needed to know that this was a good decision for my college career. 

Molly Sue (right)

But band is a huge time commitment! We have six hours of class weekly and go to every single home game. Sometimes we go to away games, depending on where the game is and each individual’s class availability on departure day. I will say it does sound like a crazy time commitment sometimes when I explain it to non-band students, even to my own ears. But after committing so much time to band for so many years, it becomes second nature to your schedule. 

I do try to keep things balanced. I lean on trustworthy friends and upperclassmen in both programs (and some who also do both!) for guidance. After I fell into a groove, having both an important commitment to the marching band and the Park program proved beneficial. I was able to form meaningful friend groups, with many different types of people, in both programs. As much as being a student in a full-ride program brings about a unique experience, so does being a student in the marching band. My balance is made by wonderful support systems and genuine involvement in the things I choose to be a part of. 

The biggest support in the Park community that I have had towards my musical endeavors has been from upperclassmen Park Scholars in band. At times when I felt like quitting the band or overwhelmed with commitments, they comforted me. I am very grateful to have people that have shown me I can do both.”

Freddy Kelley, Class of 2025
Major: Sociology and Biochemistry
Hometown: Asheboro, NC
Instrument: Drumline, specifically cymbals

Freddy Kelley (right)

I was really involved with the arts programs in my high school so much that they defined a lot of my most impactful high school experiences. Band was where I found a lot of my friends in high school, and moving into college, I was really encouraged to continue involvement with the music programs here at NC State. I got involved as a way to stay connected to music, one of my passions, make friends, and be part of a strong student organization. The Park program supported and encouraged me to come to college and stay involved in organizations that I find fun and that emphasize my strengths and values that make me well-rounded. For me, that was getting involved in the NC State Marching Band.

Being in the band is a big commitment. We practice three times a week, but honestly, it’s a break from academics where I can still feel like I am being productive. We also get to play at all the football games and get front row seats. There are even opportunities to travel to away games where sometimes the whole band will go or just a small group. This year I got to travel to Louisville with the band for the away game. Also, last semester, I was part of a select group that got to join the Cheerleading Team as a member of the band and compete in the cheer National Championship competition in Daytona Beach. 

The Park program really encouraged me to join the marching band because they wanted me to stay true to who I was and do things in college that I genuinely enjoyed doing in high school. Also using a PEG, I was able to buy a Bassoon (which is not my marching band instrument) which was my primary instrument in high school, so that I could continue playing here in college and so that I could be a part of Musical Empowerment, a student organization that provides free music lessons for under-resourced students in the Raleigh Community.”

Sam Dotson, Class of 2024
Major: Business Administration
Hometown: Marion, NC
Instrument: Piccolo

Sam Dotson

I joined the Power Sound of the South because I was left with such a good impression of band from my experiences in high school and I wanted to continue playing in the college marching band. The band here is also massive and loud, which makes it a lot of fun to be a part of. 

However being a part of the band is a big-time commitment. We rehearse three times a week for about two hours. We are required to attend every home football game and specific away games. We try to travel with the team any time we can. Game days are also very long. Usually, they can last over 10 hours, including a rehearsal, parading around Carter-Finley stadium, two field shows, and playing during the game itself. I don’t mind putting in the time because I love it so much. 

In all my other extracurricular activities, I have taken on leadership roles within the Park Scholarship program that require a lot of work outside of the meeting time itself. Band is a place where all I have to do is be there. I show up, play music, dance with my friends, and then go home. It is nice to be a part of something that doesn’t bleed into my other commitments.”

Catherine Dean, Class of 2023
Major: Elementary Education
Hometown: Fayetteville, NC
Instrument: Clarinet
and Saxophone

Cat Dean

Music has played such an influential role in my life. It has served as an emotional outlet for me and taught me the impact of hard work, dedication, and passion. It has also allowed me to build close friendships and be a part of a community that brings joy to others. For these reasons, I wanted to continue creating and engaging in music during college. Therefore, becoming a member of the NC State Power Sound of the South was an easy decision for me.

The NC State Marching Band is unlike any other band I have ever been a part of, in all the best ways possible. If NC State School Spirit isn’t a requirement for joining, it is definitely developed within the program. We love our school, fellow students, sports teams and fans. We participate in a variety of spirit events throughout the semester. We are at all the home football games and pep rallies in the Fall (as well as some away games), and many of us are a part of the NC State Pep Band that plays at all the Women’s and Men’s basketball games in the Spring. We have also played for other NC State sports, such as volleyball and wrestling, and several NC State events, such as Recfest and Packapalooza. We march on the field at Carter Finley Stadium before all football games and during halftime. We play in the stands or parade for fans when we are not marching on the field. My absolute favorite part of being in the band is getting to parade around before and after football games or for other events on NC State’s campus. I love that we make people smile when we go by and that we bring so much energy into the environment. I feel honored to be a part of an organization that does so much good for its students, university and community.

Each instrument section in the band is like its own family. We have our own traditions and inside jokes, and we are always ready to support one another in any way we can. Sometimes, this means studying together, helping each other with homework, or sharing helpful academic resources. This close community of family-like friends is also great for maintaining good mental health. Every college student must find ways to contribute to their mental well-being and make time to do this. Marching band is a mental wellness activity and a break from schoolwork that is built into my schedule. In this one class, I spend time with friends, play music, stay physically active, and attend NC State pep rallies and sporting events. I cannot think of a better way to care for myself mentally.”

Special Spotlight: 

Eva Feucht, Class of 2002
Instrument: Trumpet

Eva Feucht, Director of the Park Scholarships program, was a member of the Power Sound of the South! 

“My experiences with music at NC State provided a bridge to help me continue my involvement in musical ensembles—and the lifelong learning and community support that comes with these organizations—for life.”Read more about Eva’s experience in the band here.

In January 2023, Feucht (bottom center) volunteered as an alumna musician with the NC State Pep Band for a basketball game held while students were away during winter break.