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16 July 2007

Taking the Field: JSU Hosts Drum
and Bugle Corps Competition

The Spirit of Jacksonville State University hosted eight other corps in a competition Sunday night. The event was the halfway point in the touring season. Photo: Brian Schoenhals/The Anniston Star

By Todd South
Star Staff Writer

Reprinted here in its entirety.


Drums rattled and popped with machine-like precision as hundreds of performers twirled, marched and paced on the bright green grass and parking lots straddling Pelham Road.

The performers were warming up before Sunday night’s Spirit of America Drum and Bugle Corps competition at Paul Snow Stadium at Jacksonville State University.

As drum and bugle corps teams took the field a nearly full home-side stadium hushed.

With varying introductions, the teams sprang to life as horns blew, flags unfurled and replica rifles spun in the air.

Green-shirted Drum Corps International officials weaved in and out of the teams yelling into recorders to note the teams’ performances.

Among the throngs in the stands, many proud parents sat in awe of their sons and daughters’ hard work come to life.

Kat Davis of Wetumpka, mother of Tyler Eads, a first-year 16-year-old baritone player for the Jacksonville corps, beamed as she spoke of her son’s dedication to the team and how much he’d learned only halfway through his first tour.

“They practice 10, sometimes 14, hours a day,” Davis said. “It’s like a boot camp, regimented, but he loves it,” she yelled over the sound of the blaring instruments.

The Spirit of Jacksonville State University hosted eight teams in Sunday night’s competition. The event was the halfway point in a touring season that lasts from June 16 through the championship performance on Aug. 11, in Pasadena, Calif.

Carla Morris, event planner for area Spirit competitions said the corps performs at about 32 nationwide shows three to four per week with little rest.

Ryan Claus, a drummer for the Blue Devils out of Concord, Calif., said he’s been playing with the team for six years and will miss it when he reaches the age limit of 22 next year.

Claus said despite it being a coordinated team event, the pressure is on when he hits the field.

“You feel completely alone, all you see is yourself, it’s just you and the crowd with your heart pumping adrenaline,” Claus said.

Results of the competition are available at

About Todd South

Todd South is a graduate of the University of Georgia. He served five years in the Marines and participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Todd covers Clay, Randolph and Cleburne counties and Oxford for the Star.

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