ACHIEVING ANY goal takes determination, self-discipline, and a certain level of grit. Short-term goals require a high level of mental acuity. Long-term goals require much more than a centered and strong mind. Achieving long-term goals takes a constant renewal of passion. This passion, found deep within one’s heart, is the fuel that keeps the mind and body moving when everything else screams, “Give up! Quit!” Fayetteville native Evan Pollard displayed incredible grit as he worked toward his lifelong goal of becoming a member of the Auburn University Band.
Pollard graduated from Lincoln County High School in 2020 with a nearly full-ride scholarship to Auburn University. Pollard’s dream of marching as an Auburn Tiger was birthed at home, as both of Pollard’s parents played in the band at Auburn University. His dad played trumpet, and his mom played clarinet. Following in his mother’s footsteps, Pollard picked up the clarinet, beginning in the sixth grade at Blanche Elementary School. He excelled quickly and exponentially.
Pollard decided early on that he wanted to get serious about developing his talent. Thus, he began taking private lessons from his music instructor, Liz Potter. These lessons started in the 7th grade and continued throughout high school. Every single Monday, Pollard made a conscious and calculated choice to work on his craft. He had the end in mind and knew that to reach his full potential and become great, he had to practice and sacrifice.
His hard work paid off then and is still paying off now. Pollard was playing in the Lincoln County High School Band as an eighth grader, an opportunity that only a few people had the chance to do. He was invited to and played in many prestigious honor bands across the Southeast. These include Samford Honor Band, Auburn Honor Band, Ole Miss Honor Band, and Alabama Honor Band. He was also the first Blanche Middle School student ever invited to play in the MidState Honor Band.
These honors were only his laughing pad, however. Pollard only continued to grow as he committed his time to music.
Regarding his training and work ethic, Pollard shared, “Auburn was the number one reason I practiced as hard as I did. I wanted to get in, and I wanted a scholarship.” Not only did he get into his dream school and its band program, but he also was awarded the Auburn Marching Band Presidential Scholarship. He shared, “Before I went to Auburn, I auditioned inside the assistant band director’s office, and they immediately offered me the Presidential Scholarship.”
While Pollard’s journey to Auburn may appear easy and seamless, it was not without its challenges and disappointments. In fact, a few times in Pollard’s career, he almost lost hope and gave up practicing clarinet altogether. His advice for those aspiring to play at the next level is this, “Don’t let what’s going on around you now, cloud your view of what could be in the future. I was borderline quitting a few times, but now playing at Auburn is the coolest thing I’ve ever done. I’m having the most fun I’ve ever had and getting paid to do it. That’s a big win.”
Pollard shared what it was like to play in front of 87,000 people for the first time. He said, “My first performance with the Auburn University Band was probably one of the most adrenaline-producing experiences I’ve ever had. If you’re not familiar, at Auburn football games, the band runs out of the tunnel first. There is a hype video that plays first, introducing the band. So we are all crowded underneath the tunnel, waiting for our cue to come out. It’s intense. While waiting, you could barely hear anything because it was so loud with 87,000 people above. I remember my fingers shaking, as I was so nervous and excited simultaneously. There is nothing like it. It was an honor, and I was incredibly happy to be there.”
When Pollard returns to Auburn this fall, he will begin the semester as a Junior. He shared that he has found joy and a true sense of community in the Auburn University Band. Pollard acknowledged that there were many people within our community whom he feels the most profound gratitude. Pollard’s parents, Liz Potter, and Mary Ellen Hovik, are some of the most prominent people. He desires to thank them for helping him pursue his dreams. “I wouldn’t have been able to do that if it weren’t for them and their support over the years.” GN