Rodney's Story

Rodney Wong

The 1987 corps season was one that seemed to just continue from the previous. One year before in ’86, we performed first in DCI prelims, then watched our Finals hopes drop slowly down the scoreboard until we rested, disappointed, at tenth. Even worse, estimates from judges during the season had picked us to finsh around fourth. I don’t recall a single person who experienced ’86, who didn’t rejoin in ’87 with something to prove.

The desire born of 1986, translated into a methodic and dedicated following season with things mentally and musically falling quickly into place. Pre-championship competition went well, with quotes from Drum Corps World calling us “The biggest little kid on the block!” and “A Boston Crusaders for the 80s.” Performances, although not flawless, were rich and exciting because we were doing things that we had never accomplished before, and we were reaching those goals together.

These times on and off the field were ours. Equally memorable were friends made along the way and where we became the “good guys” and were cheered on my everyone. I remembered that year we were sure to return our DCI application early to avoid the dreaded 8:00 a.m. first slot in Monday Prelims. Everything was right yet comfortably tense, but then on that day for some reason the upper drum battery was… well… tired and drained. We knew that we were in trouble and finally on the way to Badger Stadium, found a dose of energy to squeak through. Squeak we did into Finals, but we were dangerously close to flopping that Prelim show.

Finals, on the other hand, wasn’t another tense job. Out of that gate we meshed, or sold, or sang, or whatever it was, it was right. For the first time for me the performance felt effortless and sweet. It wasn’t about notes and drill, it was about what the music meant and felt like. Yes, it felt good! Usually after a good show, you sense the exhaustion as you leave the field. After Finals ’87, the feeling carried off the field, out the gate, and long after hearing “parade rest” and “relax.”

As if things weren’t good enough, we won that night, too. Long after the encore and the stadium emptied, I remember staying there to march some yards, because on that night we owned that Astroturf. Finally out of the stadium, much later, we still met cheers, applause, and smiles.

I continued four more years and volunteered one, and although skills and shows peaked in later years, that one win — the feeling — was never better than that one time. We had done something we didn’t know we could do. If constant reminiscing is a sign of age, then I guess I’m getting up there because I talk old times every so often and never get tired of it. Although I don’t play much anymore, I acquired a snare, and am pretty sure my old ’84 uniform and white bucks are up in my closet. Gee, am I wierd?!? I guess so…

Thanks to everyone whose path I crossed along the way, and thanks to everyone who remains to support, direct, and teach Mandarins and what we stand for. You are all very special to me.

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