New face leads Pride of Southland Band

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT)-- The University of Tennessee's Pride of Southland Band is one of the oldest collegiate bands in the nation and it's rich with tradition. But no matter how old and traditional you are there's always room for growth.

Gary Sousa, the Director of Bands said "We have a new building and it's the first time in 144 years that we have a building that fits the entire band-- all 330 members."

But that's not the only new change for the band; there's a new Drum Major starting the 2013 football season.

"Her name is Jessica Henderson. She was a squad leader last year and she stepped up and did a great job last year. She made an application this year and she was up against 4 others-- they were all boys." said Gary

In fact, it's only the second time in the band's history to have a female as the Drum Major. The first was back in 2005 when Kelly Bradshaw held the high honor.

It's a important position in the band and it's something that's not taken lightly.

"We treat the Drum Major position as if it's a job. There's a long process to go through including an application, interviews, question and answer sessions and plenty of demonstrations." said Gary

However, it was a challenge that Jessica didn't back down from and hopes other women will follow in her footsteps.

"What I really want is for women to go after what they want because there are so many things that are still off limits for us and I want all women to have the strength and confidence to go after the things they want." said Jessica

Make sure to cheer her on as she leads the band through the 2013 football season. The home opener is Saturday August 31, 2013 against Austin Pevy at 6:00 p.m. The game will be shown on Pay-Per-View.

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