Daniel Rodriguez grew up about an hour from Norman. So, naturally, the Sooners were kind of a big deal. He knew from a young age, he would probably never step foot on Owen Field as a football star, but he also knew that wasn’t the only way, and in the fall of 2009, he fulfilled a lifelong dream when he sprinted onto the legendary field as a member of the Pride of Oklahoma.
“You kind of know it's coming and then it happens,” said Rodriguez. “Usually you have about 10 steps before you get out of the tunnel and you're in a full on sprint because you don't have a lot of time to do it, you have to be there or else everything is ruined.”
Rodriguez describes the booming sound that confronts the ears of the 300 Pride members running onto the field.
“I mean you can imagine 85,000 people just talking in conversation how loud that is, much less, 85,000 people screaming.” It's something that you can't even describe on how to experience. It's one of those things, there are 300 of you in the band, but yet there's 85,000 people plus people you know on TV or whatever watching you and they're all looking exactly at you and cheering for you. It's really impossible to explain.”
Rodriguez says he started in band in the 6th grade and attended his first OU game the following year and the experience is still with him every time he sees the Pride.
“To this day still, just, you get chills,” says Rodriguez. “If you've ever been in band and you watch that. Just because you know that's something you could accomplish one day and be a part of. And like I said just thinking about it now like I get chills even just thinking about you know being a part of the band and everything they get to do with it.”
“Even from the second you get in pride you have a rehearsal that night,” Rodriguez said. “You talk about everything and everyday you work on it and you just keep building towards it and your anticipation for it just keeps growing and growing. That's not even something as a freshman you understand. Every year you work on it, even my second year in pride there's still that anticipation that you just keep growing and growing and it's still, it's crazy just thinking about that I was actually able to be a part of that.”
Rodriguez describes a typical game day in the life of a member of the Pride.
“You have a morning rehearsal which you go over everything and practice and rehearse for everything,” says Rodriguez. “Then you usually have about an hour, hour and a half to go change into your uniform. And then there are pep bands throughout the day that you have to be a part of. And then two hours before kickoff you have a concert that you do for public out in the North Oval. Then you do a parade to the stadium and the you get into the tunnel.”
“You usually have about 45 minutes to just kind of hang out in the tunnel,” says Rodriguez. “You get some water; you hydrate. Slowly, as it gets closer and closer, every section kind of has their own ritual that they do and everyone starts getting more pumped up and pumped up and then right before everyone goes out there's a chant that everyone does. My section personally we all hit our horns together. It was just one of the things we did, and you do your chants and you just get ready for the run on.”
He says first time on Owen Field left him in a state of anxious anticipation, but the period of time before the game was its own experience.
“I didn't sleep at all the night before,” Rodriguez said. “I remember it was late game so we didn't have rehearsal till like 9 in the morning, but me and a lot of the freshman in my section, all went and hung out. All of us, you could just kind of tell, we were all jittery just thinking about, man in less the 24 hours we're finally going to get to do the run on that we've practiced so many times and that we've heard about, and most of us have seen before. Kind of a part of the reason a lot of people do pride is pre-game. That's one of things that's the best thing you could ever experience in life. So I don't think any of us really slept that night.
“It's kind of even hard to explain like just thinking about you kind of get chills,” says Rodriguez. “I remember my first time ever, and it's not something you get used to. Every time you did it. Every time I did for the 2 years I was in it was one of the best experiences of my life every single time, just running on. Like, I mean for most of us we all love sports, but how many people did sports, but never got to do anything out of high school. It was kind of like we got to continue our pro career into college kind of, but we did it through band instead of sports.”