2017 Legacy Award
2017 Legacy Award Winner
Katie's letter to Drums Along The Mohawk:
I first saw drum corps when I was still a member of my high school varsity winter guard program. Perhaps what is unique about this program is the absence of a marching band. I had no idea what drum corps was until I visited my cousin Victoria. She had recently “aged out” of this thing called drum corps and invited me to see her alma mater at the East Coast Classic. I initially didn’t think I would be impressed, but I wanted to check out the color guards.
As day fell into night and the aluminum chilled beneath us, I became more and more dazzled by the performers underneath those stadium lights. They produced the activity on a scale that made me realize there was more to it than color guard, it was bigger than that. The level of talent, professionalism and theatricality exuded wanted me to be like them. I had only ever performed to prerecorded music, the live brass and drums added a quality that I hadn’t considered before.
The activity was more challenging than I anticipated: through sweat, bruises, sunburn, tears, Coppertone sunscreen, blood blisters, torrential downpours, unrelenting Midwest sun and aching feet and hands I grew. Endless hours of technique block and running that chunk “one more time” everyday taught me how to persevere and endure, to be intensely focused in my responsibilities as a performer. It trained me how to commit, how to be a workhorse. I’ll always remember hearing, “No one is going to give anything to you, you have to FIGHT FOR IT.”
Joining my cousin’s alma mater, I had to commute anywhere between six and eight hours every weekend after WGI until tour. I was the only person from New York and didn’t know a soul in this tightly knit group of mostly locals. I had never had a chance to interact with other people in pageantry outside of the bubble that was my high school and this experience opened up a whole new world for me. For the first time I spun with people I didn’t grow up with. It gave me perspective outside the bubble. It forced me to get out of my comfort zone.
It wasn’t until my second season that I finally got out of my shell and opened up to the people around me. There’s Martha, we got yelled at for that toss last year until Finals week when we finally figured it out. Alyssa and I gossiped and snacked on the bus every night. I made sure my buddy Jake was doing okay that block, made sure he hydrated and let him vent to me. The staff and sabre line worked out choreography in a dust field in the-middle-of-nowhere Iowa. We cared intensely about not only this show that we were creating, but about each other. Every year I’m coming to find that this sort of environment is very rare and incredibly special.
Even the musicians, that I don’t share the amount of close time with, I cherish them as well. I have always seen it as a privilege to eat, sleep, and sweat beside such talented people. They physically produce the music I need to give life to. I am no longer relying on a recording of my directors iPhone. The music that I love performing to becomes human. It’s the people I share a meal with every day.
Drum Corps for me not only opened doors to the top groups in the country, its changed my entire perspective of life. I now have the ability and the confidence of a World Class performer.