The first drum corps show I ever saw was the East Coast Classic at the Manning Bowl in Lynn, MA in July 2003. Tony Koski, a former high school band instructor, told a few band kids and I about it and we caravanned down I-93 to the event. I trolled the parking lot like the fangirl I was and watched all the drumlines warming up before racing back to the top of the stands just in time to watch the Boston Crusaders perform Bravo. At the end of their performance, I hopped the gate and ran over to the quad line, three of them being Geoff Summers, Brian Lange, and Thom Bureau who would all be instructors of mine later on. I didn’t even know what to say or what my intentions were in that moment. I was just infatuated with the prominence of this corps. I told myself I was going to march the following summer.
I auditioned for Boston three times before earning a spot in the quad line. I cried to Brian Lange when he told me I was tapped to march the 2008 season. Flying back from auditions in Madison, WI (Madison Scouts), Fort Mill, SC (Carolina Crown), and Orlando, FL (ironically, the Boston Crusaders) all those years really started to take their toll. But on the flight home to Manchester, NH, I sat with a stranger who was the first person I told I had made the quad line. He had no idea what I was talking about but congratulated me anyway.
I’ll never forget taking the field at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, FL. As we were coming down the tunnel, all I could hear were the syncopation of the corps’ steps and the low murmur of the crowd inside. It was dark with the occasional flicker of some uniforms in front of me. As we moved down the tunnel and I looked out over our ranks, I saw our two drum majors in white step into the light of the field and the trickle of red uniforms right after. What came then was this eruption of cheers from the crowd like nothing I had ever heard before. The stadium shook and the tunnel filled with a deafening thunder. It was hard not to be hyped for that show.
My first and final (rookout) year at Boston was allegedly with DCI’s tallest quad line, the five of us standing at 6’1”, 6’2”, 6’3”, 6’4”, and 6’5” respectively. Michael Howell and Denis Avey were the strong side, Damon Kelley and I were the dark side, Jeff Bickford in the center.
I didn’t get to use the Vic Firth Corpsmaster MTS1 sticks or carry the tan Dynasty drums that represented the Crusaders to me and Ellen (Morris) Lupfer wasn’t my seat buddy but I did get to wear the iconic red uniform. I cried (it’s a thing I do) to the two moms who tailored it when I went for my fitting during move-ins. I waited a long time to see myself in the mirror wearing that red and black uniform. They both hugged me and let me have my moment.
I got my Waldo tattoo on my left calf the summer after I aged out. I brought the design to a little shop in Keene, NH and spoke to an artist about size and placement. I scheduled an appointment for a few days later and when I showed up, the artist said someone else in the shop wanted to do it in her place. The new artist happened to march with Boston in 2005 and had the same tattoo. She did mine for free.