The Making Of A Champion


Just what does it take to be in one of the best lines in the world? Drum corps fans are lucky - they get to enjoy the final product - the precise and exciting performances that members of the corps have been working towards day in and day out for months. What many fans don't witness is the hard work, sweat and determination put into each minute of rehearsal.

Blue Devils Color Guard - Jessica Allen

"There's a fire that burns within the Blue Devils Color Guard. I know this fire because it dances through me and radiates from the arms of my friends as they move through space. I like to call this fire ‘passion’ or sometimes ‘sheer desire.’ This is what drives me, and I think it is safe to say that it drives the Blue Devils Color Guard. What drives this passion and desire is unique to everyone. However, it is certain that we are all driven by our fans and audience, our love for this activity and our focus to be the best at what we do.

"Working toward being the best is not an easy task. This will be my fifth year with the Blue Devils, and I still feel like I'm on my toes. This is the toughest competition!

"Each year is a process. Winning high color guard is a process. I've won and lost with the Blue Devils Color Guard. And my experience has showed me that every last detail matters in a champion color guard. Eating correctly, sleeping, being respectful of others, pushing through the smallest details in choreography and conducting yourself in a professional, mature manner are just a few of the key elements that bind the greater picture. The reality of our color guard is that no one is perfect. It's not rare to find people practicing on their breaks or asking for help on parts they are having trouble with.

"On top of it all, we have a phenomenal staff. With Scott Chandler doing our choreography, Jay Murphy writing our drill, and T.J. Doucette and Dave Meikle as technicians, we cannot help but be perfectly set up for awesome performances. Part of my love for the Blue Devils comes from the fact that our staff is priceless and we are treated professionally.

"Winning is a bonus when you are a part of a great color guard. The most magical part of the 2001 Blue Devils Color Guard was the spirit we each had. I was amazed how we were able to roll out of bed, aching and sore, and the next minute be dancing and jumping up and down. If you saw our energy through our performance, you can imagine the energy we circulated on a daily basis. Instead of spiraling down when we were tired, we would fight through exhaustion with laughter and cheers, clapping and pats on the back. On behalf of the Blue Devil Color Guard, I would like to express our thanks to DCI and all of our supporters for giving us the opportunity to share our energy. We perform for you. See you this summer!"

Jessica Allen; Blue Devils Color Guard, 1998-2002; Color Guard Captain ‘01, ‘02

Blue Devils Color Guard - Jennifer Byers

"My first season with the Blue Devils Color Guard was in 1997. It couldn't have been a more fulfilling experience. I won my first Drum Corps International title as well as my first High Auxiliary title all within my rookie year. I like to think that I was spoiled. In 2001, I aged out of the Blue Devils, taking two DCI Championships and four High Auxiliary titles with me. It has been five years of my life that I will treasure forever.

"During the summer I work harder than I do any other time of the year. Being in the sun from 9:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. tests your personal strength and limits. We spend countless hours every day with the expertise of incredible staff members like Scott Chandler, T.J. Doucette and Dave Meikel, working towards excellence. At times it's monotonous, emotionally draining and even physically painful. You deal with sunburns, tendinitis, sore muscles and fatigue for three months straight.

"Just as we work hard, we love to play just as much. Some days seem unbearable, but the staff always knows how to revive us with a little Popsicle break. As much as our staff loves to work, they like to play as much as we do, and at times almost seem younger than us.

“We fought all summer for the High Auxiliary title against the Cavaliers. At times we won and at times we lost. At Finals, hearing 'High Auxiliary' goes to the Blue Devils' weas the sweetest sound my ears had heard all season. Everything that you have worked for the last three months has been culminated into one glorious moment, and at the same time it is such an emotional release that all you can do is stand there and cry.

"My experiences with the Blue Devils Color Guard have been life-altering. Without them, I would never appreciate the true meaning of hard work. You learn to push yourself beyond your limits, even when you don't think that you can go any further. It is a constant learning process. Even now after aging out, I am continuing to learn as I continue in teaching. Above all, I value the friendships that I have made along the way. The people that I love and hold closest to my heart are those that I have met in the past five years as a member of the Blue Devils Color Guard. These are the memories that I have made, and the lessons that I have learned – both of which I will take with me for the rest of my life."

Jennifer Byers, Blue Devils Color Guard, 1997-2001
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