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"Heart Is More Than Winning"


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My sister got me interested in Drum Corps. I started attending parades and so forth, while she marched with the Blue Angels Drum and Bell Corps from San Lorenzo, Ca., from the time I was 9, and thru my 13th year of my life. The one thing that always intrigued me were the tenors. From then on, I wanted to be in DC. I would take my set of sticks and CONSTANTLY play along with the album recording from Combine West '71. (Cavaliers show)

God I loved SCV back then.

In 1971, I had asked my sister to see if I could join the Blue Angels, I had the "fever" bigtime by then, but she was advised at the time, that I was not good enough to be a member of the Corps. That's cool, no worries....heh.

Finally, her and I decided to join the Royalaires Drum and Bugle Corps (where I met Scott Johnson), from close by San Leandro, Ca. I auditioned, and was accepted to play bass in the drumline. Sis and I remained with the Royalaires until 1974, when the corps merged with the Stockton Commodores, to form the Royal Commodores, which lasted one season.

Then came the turning point in our DC lives...........1975.

She had always adored the Vanguard, as did I, but by then, I had grown an admiration for the Blue Devils jazz sound. So off I went to Concord, and she to Santa Clara. Then the fun began, she with her VERY conservative Vanguard, and me with the swashbuckling Blue Devils. SCV had just come off a DCI Champoinship year, and the Devils had just made a jump from 24th in '73 to 9th in '74.

I always liked an underdog. :P

Drum Corps from that point on was an interesting topic in our house, but Mom and Dad always stayed neutral, and did what most parents would do in that case, cheer for BOTH sides! In '75, SCV ended up in 2nd, and we (Blue Devils) in 3rd (we had beat SCV quite a few times throughout the year, including the World Open, and CYO Nationals leading up to Finals week), so no "blood" had been spilled.........yet. :P

Then came 1976, the year that gave me SO much joy, yet so much sorrow also.

For those of you who don't know, the 1976 Blue Devils dominated DCI in a way that no other had EVER done, as we swept all captions, and won by 2 FULL POINTS! What I will remember most about 1976, was the announcer in Philly.........

"in 2nd place, with a score of nine zero, point seven zero........................the Madison Scouts!"

- The world stopped for me and I'm sure the rest of us in the corps for a few moments.

We all jumped, hugged, kissed (heh), threw our shakos in the air, ran around like little kids. Pure pandomonium had broken out. I can vividly remember the euphoria that was going through my body at that moment.

At that particular retreat at finals, we were staged between the Scouts and SCV. At a time that I thought NOTHING could change what I was feeling, something did. As I made my way around the corps to congratulate my co-members, I looked towards the Vanguard, and what I saw, made the title seem meaningless.

- My sister had been in DC since 1967.

- She was my hero for twirling her baton, while the drummers drummed, and the bell players played, I LOVED watching them.

- She had brought me to the activity that really gave me some direction and MUCH joy in my young life.

- She tried desperately to get me into Blue Angels.

- She brought me along to join the Royalaires.

- SHE looked out for her little brother.

What I saw that night in Philly, STILL chokes me up to this day.

I saw my sister, standing at attention in the proud Vanguard traditon, her knee's buckling, overcome with emotion, trying to keep from breaking down, heart broken, exhausted, but she dug deep inside, and showed the pride that SHE had taught me.

- In the span of 2 or 3 minutes, Time stood still for me again.

Everything that happened in 1976, the hard work, the sweat, the thousands of hours of practice, meant absolutely NOTHING to me. The only thing I could focus on was my sister, and the pain that she had to be feeling that night. After the years of marching she had experienced, and was gracious enough to let her little brother "tag along", it was I who had just gone to the pinnacle of Drum Corps. I felt like someone had just ripped my heart out.

It was not allowed to break the SCV ranks, especially at Nationals, or break any corps rank in general. I felt SO helpless, this was not a casual acquaintance that I was looking at in pain, this was my own flesh and blood, my sister. If I could have changed uniforms with her at that moment, I would have....afterall, SHE deserved it more than I did. I wanted SO bad to go over to her and hug her, tell her that they had given it all they could, that I loved her for what she had given me the opportunity to accomplish in DC. But I couldn't.

Retreat had ended, SCV left the field, and my sis and I didn't see each other until we came home to Cali.

I learned something that night in Philly, that heart was more important than winning. That giving was more important than receiving.

My sister gave so many things to me in life, and in Drum Corps, including the championship in 1976.

So I will take this opportunity to say...........

Thank you sis, for on the night of August 21, 1976......it was you who was the champion on the field. :huh:

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Well said, Rich. Just goes to show it's not always about winning. Hope your sister knows what she's got for a brother.

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well...I guess I needed one to.......... :huh:

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Wow Rich. That was one sweet testimonial to your sister and was a definate tear jerker for me. I hope though that someday you can accept that it DOES mean something that Blue Devils won in '76. You worked your tail off right along with your whole Corps to win your very first NATIONALS! That is something that you should never deny yourself and should always be proud of. And you know what? I bet that your sister is just as proud of you too.

Just so you know, she had her mettle tested during the season of '75. It was I bet one of the hardest years to be in SCV. After winning 2 DCIs in a row the monkey was on our backs for a 3peat. It seemed no matter how hard we tried, the judges weren't biting. The staff was at their wits end and maybe it was unintentional but they worked us like dogs to get rid of each and every tick. It was not fun. However, I can truly say that we of SCV put on one heck of a show come finals night. We got a 30 "perfect" score in GE. I watched the staff go absolutely nuts on the sidelines when we were done and I proudly knew that we couldn't have been any better. That is what I'm sure your sister experienced in '75.

Yes, it was painful to lose. But you know what? We had each other to lean on then as I'm sure that they did in '76. There is a line in the '73 Competitive Drum Corps tape that followed SCV around for the season. An SCV member says. "If we win, we win together...If we lose, we lose together...". Rest assured, your sister was not alone in her pain that night and found comfort with her fellow Corps members...

So now I'm curious. What is your sisters name if I may ask?

Edited by MsBusDriver
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Wow Rich. That was one sweet testimonial to your sister and was a definate tear jerker for me. I hope though that someday you can accept that it DOES mean something that Blue Devils won in '76. You worked your tail off right along with your whole Corps to win your very first NATIONALS! That is something that you should never deny yourself and should always be proud of. And you know what? I bet that your sister is just as proud of you too.

Just so you know, she had her mettle tested during the season of '75. It was I bet one of the hardest years to be in SCV. After winning 2 DCIs in a row the monkey was on our backs for a 3peat. It seemed no matter how hard we tried, the judges weren't biting. The staff was at their wits end and maybe it was unintentional but they worked us like dogs to get rid of each and every tick. It was not fun. However, I can truly say that we of SCV put on one heck of a show come finals night. We got a 30 "perfect" score in GE. I watched the staff go absolutely nuts on the sidelines when we were done and I proudly knew that we couldn't have been any better. That is what I'm sure your sister experienced in '75.

Yes, it was painful to lose. But you know what? We had each other to lean on then as I'm sure that they did in '76. There is a line in the '73 Competitive Drum Corps tape that followed SCV around for the season. An SCV member says. "If we win, we win together...If we lose, we lose together...". Rest assured, your sister was not alone in her pain that night and found comfort with her fellow Corps members...

So now I'm curious. What is your sisters name if I may ask?

Thanks for the kind words Maggie.

I do accept that it means something winning in 1976, but at the time I mentioned, it didn't. I also realize the pain all of you went through that night in '75, as we were right there along with you......... :)

It was one of those moments in time that come without warning, and then leaves in the same manner. As I mentioned, it was SO different because it was my sister.

BTW.....her name is Sandi.

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Rich...a truely great story. The stuff "Legends" are made of. I don't mean that facetiously. You and your sister have a history in drum corps not commonly found any more in this era of corps jumping and "super corps" with kids that come from everywhere but where the corps hall is located. I know you've been away from the activity for a while. (<insert witty "older than the hills" joke here>). But I hope that you can come back, in what ever capacity as you offer a link to drum corps's past that is so necessary these days. While I never want to go back to the white boots and box angles...I don't want to forget where I came from, either. And I always want to acknowledge that it was the white boots and box angles that is the very foundation of the activity I love. Your story makes me thankful, too, that I finally found drum corps....even if it is in my "old age".

It's amazing the sense of family you get from your corps. I've said it before somewhere else...I'm not alone in this world b/c of Renegades. No matter what I need, I know I have 135 brothers and sisters that will gladly help me out. DCP hosts a Renegade forum. People post stuff on there re: needing a job, needing a ride to rehearsal, needing help with a whole bunch of stuff...and people are right there. More closesly to my heart....I can think of a large group of my color guard bros and sis's that have helped me through some very difficult struggles I've eeked through over the last year. I don't know where I'd be without them.

An excellent historical story, Rich. I expect more from you in the near future...and your sister TOO, considering she came from my favorite color guard of ALL TIME!!!!!

Please...keep the stories coming!!!!! :)

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thanks Lisa.........mucho appreciated........ :)

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Rich,

I was wondering if your sister aged out that night or if she got a chance to experience the thrill of winning nationals 2 years later (after her brother had won his second)?

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Well.....no, sis left SCV in '77, so she never had a chance to experience what it was like to win DCI.

Maybe in a way, she did through me, as she was VERY supportive of what I was able to be a part of in 76,77,79,and 80.

I know this for a fact, she wore the Red and Green of the Vanguard proudly, so that in itself was her pinnacle...........

"Tradition"

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