When Rebecca Phillips took over as South Carolina’s director of athletics bands, which includes the Carolina Marching Band, in the spring of 2011, she had no idea what was in store for her.
As the football team proceeded to reel off three consecutive 11-win seasons capped by Florida bowl victories, Phillips guided the band known as the “Mighty Sound of the Southeast” to new heights. While growing the band from 248 members to 325 members, she also developed a bolder style for the band that made for a livelier game day atmosphere.
But she couldn’t pass up an opportunity that came her way. She’s leaving USC in July for Colorado State.
“This university is very special to me. I will always be a Gamecock,” Phillips said. “I’m just honored that I had the opportunity to work with such great kids at a wonderful place. I look forward to this new adventure.”
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Phillips served as an associate professor and the associate director of bands in the USC School of Music in addition to directing the athletics bands. At Colorado State, she will be the director of bands, which includes guiding the school’s top concert ensemble.
“It’s an opportunity for me to eventually become a full professor someday, and it’s an opportunity for me to run a program completely from top-to-bottom and not just the athletic band,” she said. “These opportunities do not come along very often in this profession.”
Still, she hates to leave a school that gave her some of the proudest moments of her career while leading a marching band at the time of the school’s greatest football success.
“I just happened to be in the right place at the right time and was given the opportunity to help these kids and help this university. This is not something that I’ve done alone,” said Phillips, who credited the student musicians and assistant director Jayme Taylor for their work as well as support from coach Steve Spurrier and his wife, Jerri.
“It also took support from fans and the president (Harris Pastides) and the athletics department,” she said. “When I look as this accomplishment, it was all of us together deciding, ‘Hey, let’s make a change,’ and we made it happen together. I’m proud that I was a part of that.”
Taylor will serve as the interim director for athletics bands while USC begins a national search after Phillips’ departure this summer.