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Steve Rondinaro took over the corps when they made the transition from the Florida Vanguard to the Florida Wave. He was director during their prime years.

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Steve Rondinaro took over the corps when they made the transition from the Florida Vanguard to the Florida Wave. He was director during their prime years.

I wasn't around the corps during that era, so I'll leave this discussion to those who were. I'd say that the 13th place finish in 1987 was the "prime" for the corps' lineage and Jo Wessman was definitely the director that year. I lived in St. Louis at the time and DCI Midwest was held there. I ran a few minor errands for her there and later in Madison. I believe the corps' reemergence was featured in the Miami Herald.

My understanding from other alumni is that Rondinaro was there briefly, and that his contribution to Channel 10 far exceeded his contribution to the corps.

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DCI's own website quotes Rondinaro:

"(And of course, there was the Florida Wave chapter, thanks too to Don Whiteley, who talked me into taking over a troubled Florida Vanguard operation.) [Editor’s note: Steve also brought that corps up to a 13th place finish at the DCI World Championships.]"

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DCI's own website quotes Rondinaro:

"(And of course, there was the Florida Wave chapter, thanks too to Don Whiteley, who talked me into taking over a troubled Florida Vanguard operation.) [Editor’s note: Steve also brought that corps up to a 13th place finish at the DCI World Championships.]"

Far be it from me to question DCI's website. But there's the Miami Herald:

Miami Herald, The (FL)

1988-07-01

Section: AMUSEMENTS

Edition: FINAL

Page: 2C

HERE COME THE DRUMS \

Herald Staff

If you like precision marching, blaring bugles and drums, you will want to attend the Tropical Brass Drum and Bugle Corps Competition to be held at 7:30 p.m. today at the Miami-Dade Community College North Campus Stadium, Northwest 113th Street and 27th Avenue.

The program will feature five corps: The Dutch Boy of Canada; the Diplomats of Mauldin, Mass.; the Spirit of Atlanta; Suncoast Sound from Tampa Bay, and South Florida's own Florida Wave. This is the first competition the Florida Wave has sponsored, said director Jo Wessman. "It's an attempt to bring Drum corps competition back to South Florida," Wessman said. "We haven't had one here since 1983."

The Wave, now ranked 13th world-wide, is made up of 128 youths from throughout Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. Their ages range from 14 to 21.

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DCI's own website quotes Rondinaro:

"(And of course, there was the Florida Wave chapter, thanks too to Don Whiteley, who talked me into taking over a troubled Florida Vanguard operation.) [Editor’s note: Steve also brought that corps up to a 13th place finish at the DCI World Championships.]"

Also, Rondinaro wasn't even in South Florida in 86-87:

From his bio on WWAY in North Carolina:

“Steve continued to cover the space program upon moving to WESH-TV in Orlando, Florida in 1986. (The Kennedy Space Center was part of WESH’s primary coverage area.) As the main anchor, Steve was also the point man for the station’s live shuttle launch and landing coverage…”

FYI, about 250 miles one way.

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Just got some recordings of 86 and 87 Florida Wave, and I must say that they played one heck of a good arrangement of coconut champagne. It really is exciting. Shame they never made finals <**> , considering how many years they were so close.

Any thoughts/ opinions?

Two other corps come to mind here......Watkins Glen Squires in the mid 70's and the 1981 Geneseo Knights...I hope that was the right year. They had a tremendous corps and thought for sure that they would be in top 12. I believe they opened up with "Ruslan and Ludmilla."

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Turns out we were both right, and both wrong. Steve WAS the Wave corps director, assisted by Jo Wessman those early years. Steve later became executive director, with Jo being director. And he WAS gone as director by '86. Wave did win DCI Class 'A' world title with Steve there, however.

I just had an email from Steve. Here's his story:

Don asked me to consider taking over the Florida Vanguards upon arriving in Miami.  They finshed 24th in '79 but had mortgaged the farm to do it and had all manner of internal problems.  A wise man would have declined.  I was too young to know better.  The 1980 season was a nightmare.  I didn't really know the cast of characters that well but we kept the corps going.  I was settling into a new job in a new city and ended up in the middle of the Miami riots, among other things.  I couldn't travel much at all with the corps.  We ended up getting fined by DCI for poor conduct at a housing site.  (My old Phantom buddy Bob Lendman was elected to give me the word on behalf of DCI.)  I said that was that.  I'd always prided myself on the fact that Squires would always be welcomed back wherever we stayed.

 

   When the '80 season finished I announced in no uncertain terms that we were tearing it all down to ground zero and starting again.  Thus, the Florida Wave was born in the season of '81.  A great lady named Jo Wessman was a vital right hand.  We did it with home made uniforms and a measured approach beginning in the Class A ranks.  We put 48 kids on the field that year who really wanted to be there.  Our theme was "lightly latin & tastefully tropical" and we had fun with it.  The staff dressed up in garish Hawaiin shirts at shows and we'd pass out oranges and beach balls in the stands.  We were small but we knew who we were, why we were there, and what we had the potential to become.  The corps eventually became quite entertaining and moved to the top of the Class A ladder.  We also became a force in Open Class competition.  I moved up to an "executive director" position and Jo continued to keep the wheels moving as director. Jo was the best!

 

   I took a new TV job in Orlando in '86, which ended any tangible relationship with the Wave.  Try as we might we never were able to put it on that rock solid financial footing we would have liked... and that I believe was ultimately the demise.  That said, we were able to keep a viable, entertaining drum corps alive in South Florida for a few years longer than might otherwise have been the case, and gave some great kids the opportunity to experience it.  Running into those folks today is one of my true pleasues.  Many of them became friends for life.

 

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I'm glad that's clarified. Wish I knew how to contact Jo, but I suspect she'd see it that way too.

I never meant to diminish Steve's connection with the corps, but as he said, he was establishing himself in the dog-eat-dog world of broadcast journalism at the time and the day-to-day work was done by the locals. I know that keeping that corps going was a lifelong mission for Jo, Lee Shields and many other people that I had the honor of marching with. They didn't have the glamor of a Steve Rondinaro, but they had a great deal of management savvy, as was evident in the 1987 placing. Too bad the program couldn't survive...............

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Two other corps come to mind here......Watkins Glen Squires in the mid 70's and the 1981 Geneseo Knights...I hope that was the right year. They had a tremendous corps and thought for sure that they would be in top 12. I believe they opened up with "Ruslan and Ludmilla."

Agreeed! Wave, Squires and Knights are my three favorite corps to never make finals. All great corps with wonderful performances.

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Two other corps come to mind here......Watkins Glen Squires in the mid 70's and the 1981 Geneseo Knights...I hope that was the right year. They had a tremendous corps and thought for sure that they would be in top 12. I believe they opened up with "Ruslan and Ludmilla."

That great Knights corps was 1983, Keith. They were VERY strong!

What happened to the Knights that year was one of the most talked about things in DCI history.

July 30, 1983 DCI Midwest prelims:

Garfield 84.9

Blue Devils 82.75

Santa Clara 82.05

Phantom Regiment 75.55

Madison 75.1

Spirit of Atlanta 74.1

Suncoast Sound 72.15

27th Lancers 69.75

KNIGHTS 68.85

Freelancers 68.75

Cavaliers 67.15

Sky Ryders 67.05

Bridgemen 66.2

Crossmen 65.75

Troopers 64.65

Aug. 19, 1983 DCI semifinals

Santa Clara 91.9

Blue Devils 91.15

Garfield 91.15

Phantom Regiment 88.45

Suncoast Sound 84.8

Madison 83.9

Spirit of Atlanta 83.45

Freelancers 81.95

27th Lancers 80.5

Cavaliers 80.3

Bridgemen 79.55

Sky Ryders 78.7

Crossmen 78.6

Alliance 77.1

Troopers 76.85

KNIGHTS 73.95

The Squires had some great corps in the 1970's, but just had too many slightly better corps just ahead of them every year.

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