2017 Tony Pellegrino Award

Devin FitzGerald

Devin FitzGerald,
2017 Tony Pellegrino Award Winner

Devin's letter to Drums Along The Mohawk:

I’ve been going to drum corps shows for longer than I can remember. What amazes me the most about the DCI championships is the sheer number of groups that perform over the course of the week. From the very last place corps to the World Champion, every member has a story as to how they became a part of that corps.

There's a saying in the Santa Clara Vanguard that you don’t choose the Vanguard – the Vanguard chooses you. In a literal sense, that is true with any group where a rigorous audition process is required to attain and maintain a position. However, there’s something about the Vanguard that draws certain people to the corps. As someone who auditioned for the Vanguard twice before earning a spot, I personally felt profoundly drawn by the Vanguard mystique.

That is what gets me though the toughest days without fail. After 5 years of marching in DCI corps, going from school to camps to school to tour and then right back to school again, it can sometimes be a challenge to maintain energy and focus through the long World-Class drum corps season. But when I face that challenge now, during my age-out year with my dream corps, I think about how I was drawn to the Vanguard, and I appreciate the incredible experience that I am having. Everyone, members and staff, is functioning at the highest level. Being able to play with the best musicians in the activity and being taught by people whom many people only dream of meeting is an honor beyond reach for most. For 3 weeks prior to tour, while we practiced all day, I experienced one of the most gorgeous views I’ve ever seen – Mount Shasta in the distance. This is one of the icons of the Vanguard experience. These things all make me proud and honored to end my career as a drum corps member with the Santa Clara Vanguard.

I may not fully appreciate what I’m experiencing as I’m right in the thick of it, but I’m constantly aware that one of my life's dreams has come true. I am only saddened when to think that soon, this will end and I will return to “real life.” But for now, I am enjoying every minute of my summer with my dream corps, the Santa Clara Vanguard.

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