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rest in peace, bubba.

the first time i ever saw drum corps was in 1991, and the next year i tried out for the crossmen. I ended up getting cut from the 1992 line because my high school experience didn't match up to drum corps standards, and it fueled me to practice and become good enough to march in that corps. Marching in the crossmen was my dream. i wanted to get there pretty badly.

in 1993 and 1994 i marched in the Westshoremen Senior Corps. The first year was an awesome experience. i marched with Larry and Mario and learned a great deal from them, from swerv, and from others about drumming, about commitment and dedication, and about independence within dependence and vice versa. The second year i decided to march again because the 94 crossmen tenor line wasn't going to have any holes to fill. 94 with the Westshoremen was a pretty rough year. The drumline was small, the corps was small, and i was the only tenor player for a while, having rotated amongst at least three other players that would play and then quit, play and then quit. The newer membership didn't have the same sort of talent or commitment, and the staff were kind of in shambles for reasons i didn't see. it was a different sort of learning experience which i appreciated at some level, but by the end of the whole thing i was glad when it over.

i marched my rookie year with the Crossmen in 1995. i made it into my dream corps three years later - and it was a pretty big disappointment. It turned out that 1994 was a rough year for the crossmen also and because of it, a bunch of the people from the drumline left, including all of the tenor vets. I was looking forward to being the weak player and developing my skills to the next level, and instead i was thrust into the role of the tenor captain my rookie year with two other players who were weaker than me in technique and in understanding. Mario was our tenor tech, and i liked him as a friend, but he didn't really pull us together as a tenor line, and that year we as a full drumline got the crap beat out of us. It was a frustrating season and when the whole thing was over i felt no real connection to my section, to the rest of the drumline, or too many people in the corps.

When the fall came around, i was venting this out to people at west chester and larry who marched in the crossmen snare line in 94 and moved to cadets to 95 because of his similar frustrations in 94 put it in my ear that i should march in the cadets instead. The Cadets tenor line was a Force in 93 and 94, and one of the tenor players at west chester who i was decent friends with marched in the tenor line in 95 and had a pretty positive experience.

so i was faced with a decision. i respected what the cadets were about, but i felt like the crossmen were more of my home and style of corps that i wanted to be a part of. But the experience i had in 95 had soured me a great deal, and it seemed like everyone who had gone to the cadets were pretty happy with that move, so i was torn. i asked a lot of people for advice, and all the way up until november, i still wasn't sure where i was going to go, but was starting to lean towards the Cadets for my ageout year.

Enter Bubba. Bubba taught the drumline at my high school for a year when i was in it, was the snare tech of the Crossmen in 95, and was in charge of WCU's drumline when i was in it for my first two years. I had my differences with Bubba at times, but it didn't get in the way of our casual friendship. At some point in november, he found out that i was putting more serious thought into marching the cadets, and either before or after one of the WCU band rehearsals he pulled me aside to talk to me about it.

and what he essentially said was this: he knew that it had been my dream to march in the crossmen ever since he knew me in high school. and he knew that 95 was a rough year for everyone in the organization and that the initial dream i had was at odds with the results. he felt that if i wanted to march in the cadets, that was fine, but that i shouldn't judge the experience i had with the crossmen based on the one rough year that i had, that steps were being taken to make sure that 96 would be different, and he wanted me to be able to march in the corps that he knew i dreamed of.

and i thought about the two years i had with the westshoremen and i asked myself, what would have happened if 94 westshoremen was my first experience rather than 93? 93 shaped me so much, was highly influential to the person that i would become and still am. and i would have never had believed that i could have had those sort of memories and development if i had first come in in 94.

And it was the way he talked to me about it that resonated with me, that made me think that maybe 95 was the off year for the crossmen, and they deserved a second chance. It was because of that talk, more than any of the other countless advice that i got, that i decided to give the crossmen my age out year.

and marching with that tenor line, with rob and ankle and even carson, with jason in his infinite wisdom and talent teching us and helping me become the teacher that i am today, was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, and the finals performance that we had as a tenor line will remain etched in my memory for the rest of my life.

ultimately because of bubba.

rest in peace, darrell. congratulations on a fantastic life.


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March 2017