North America | United States of America (USA) | The Mid-Atlantic states | New York State | New York City – Tuesday
Off I go! I left home in Delaware about 10:30 AM, and I made it up to the Fairfield Inn & Suites at Newark Airport hotel in New Jersey about 12:30 PM. Registration, and then up to my room. All the participants are staying in one hotel, so lots of chances to meet new people. My roommates were Stephanie, Sabrina (twins) and Crystal, who were all from Perkiomen Valley High School in Pennsylvania. Lucky for me, they are great girls, with great parents who stocked us up on snack food. Some unpacking, and then off to the buses.
The practice site was a Junior College somewhere in New Jersey. I will admit, I dont know exactly where Rockland County Community College is, but it took us an hour to get there. The bus ride is another opportunity for meeting new faces.
Off the buses, into the gym, and to taping new flags. Each guard member was to bring his or her own white six foot pole, with USSBA supplying the flags. For a guard member, there is an almost inexplainable attachment to Their Pole. Different weights, different textures, different places marked on them. To a guard member, each pole is different. A good member can pick any pole up and spin it just the same, but there is a comfort factor to spinning a pole that they know. So we were each given a choice of a red, white or blue flag. Then we were divided by color into three groups to learn the routine.
From 3:30 to 5:30, we worked on learning the ninety second routine that would be televised. When dinner finally came, you could tell who had marched in drum corps. We took off running for the food truck as soon as they said Go! We had no desire to be behind 200 other people. My practice spot gave me a great advantage, by already being on the far end of the line, closest to the door. Unfortulently, the members of the Cadets drum corps seemed to think it was their right to cut in the front of the food line. They were putting a bad taste in the younger members mouths about the attitude of Drum corps members. Too bad. This could have been a wonderful opportunity to start building a desire to spin in a corps environment inside these high school members.
Afterwards, back to practice. Three hours of practice to go before an hour long bus ride will take us back to the hotel. We were assigned our drill spots for the stand still section tonight. Chunk of red, chunk of white, and chunk of blue. We were all good with that, only a few people got moved around. About a dozen reds, and dozen blues, got switched into whites, to even out the numbers. Then, after a break, trauma struck. The drill designer changed his mind, and turned us into stripes of red, then white, then blue. Then the back two rows, which fold in and out, were turned into red, white, blue; white, blue. This involved a large amount of pole swapping, so that everyone had a pole with the right color flag on it. Swapping poles is simpler than having everyone take their flags off, and replace them with new flags on their pole, but with 200 members, pole swapping causes nervousness. I had placed my last name on my pole before I had arrived so that I could recognize it and return with it, but what were my chances of the person who got my pole seeking me out? Little to none, they will be too worried about their own pole! So during a water break, I put my hotel room number on a tape, and went out and found my pole. Without any members around, I put it on the pole and wandered back to my spot.
Imagine my surprise when we walk to the buses and my brand new best friend, also commonly known as my bus partner Shannon, tells me that she had my pole! I could tell you, I didnt remember her last name from roll call over seven hours ago, but she had recognized mine on the pole! Luck and good fortune was definitely on my side this time!
Five, almost five and a half hours of spinning, moving, jumping and counting out loud, and I was feeling it. To the high school members, some of which just finished their season last week, or are still in their season, today was just another day. To me, it was reminding my muscles of what they are for after a four year nap.