do eastern young men go west to be in a drum corps, and what entices a West
Coast girl to twirl her flag for an eastern guard?
In the case of two friends from New York, the chance to learn the
West Coast style led to the cross-country trip. Ed Hennessy, of Rochester
NY, and David Bowen, of Ithaca, both in the Blue Devils color guard,
both veterans of different East Coast guards, made a pledge years ago
that thtey would march together during their age-out year. Ed was in
the Blue Devils guard during the 2000 season and liked it enough to
both come back and entice David to join him.
It wasnt a hard sell. I was a member of (an East Coast guard) four
years ago, and enjoyed the Blue Devils show; it was really entertaining, David
said. Plus Id never been to California.
For both guys, learning the West Coast style has not been easy. You have
years of learning how to handle a rifle, how to toss, how your body looks behind
it, Ed said. Then you have to change all that, thats
become second nature, embedded in muscle memory through countless
Both say they consider the West Coast style more professional. Id
learned a more ballet like style (in the eastern guards) Ed said. The Blue
Devils movement is more hip-hop, more mature.
They have found their interactions with their instructors to be strikingly
different, Ed and Dave say. In the East, they beat it into you; youre
afraid to drop, theres a lot more pressure. With the Blue Devils,
its like (guard instructor) T.J. [Doucette] says, you perform for
a reward, instead of doing it to not get punishment.
Its a different story for 19-year-old Bekah Chaderdon, of Portland,
Oregon. She saw the Cadets show when she was 13 and has not been the same since. I
was blown away, completely amazed. I couldnt understand how what they
were doing was physically possible. But I knew thats what I wanted to
She tried out the next year, made it the year after and is a five-year
Cadet vet before her 20th birthday. Though marching with an East Coast
corps, she and the other Cadets were paired up with the Blue Devils during
the two corps recent East Coast competition swing and are together
again while the two corps make a similar run of shows up and
down the West Coast.
Bekah may have recently had the best of the west and eastern drum
corps worlds, but, still, she has had her second thoughts. Every year at the
end of the season I say Im not coming back, but then I go to banquet,
see my friends, we talk about this memory, that thing that happened,
and I have to come back.
Bekah is out of high school but not going to college yet. This is what
I love. I want to give it 110 percent, go all out for the thing I love. I dont
want to go to college and do it part way. She hopes to find something
else she loves as much as drum corps to pursue in college.
For all three kids, getting the chance to perform in a top corps
makes the trip cross country, as well as being away from friends and
family for literally months at a time, worth it.
I enjoy it so much, and when I think about it, it would just kill me not
to be able to do it every year, Chaderdon says.