After the culture shock from my first drum corps camp had worn off I realized that The Academy was something I wanted to pursue. The 3-day camp in December pushed me to do something I had never done before, and I fell in love with that feeling. Before the camp I saw The Academy more as a far-off idea and less as a group I could be apart of, but after that weekend I was inspired to be apart of something bigger than myself.
The inspiration wore off and determination kicked in. I waited not-so patiently for an email alerting me of my status- either a callback where I would send in more footage to be reviewed, or trainee where I would only attend camps and could not march during the summer. I checked my email at every given opportunity, and when there wasn’t one, I’d make one. The anticipation grew for the next week until I was informed of my callback status. Emotions flooded over me, both good and bad, and others that were somewhere in-between. Of course I was ecstatic that the staff thought I was good enough to be given another chance, but I had to keep getting better.
Throughout the course of the next few months I flew to Arizona and got offered a contract- now I know what you’re thinking, and no, I did not get paid to march. I signed the contract in the month of April, and once again the ocean of emotions crashed over me. Don’t get me wrong, drum corps was something I had wanted to do for about two years, but it was something I thought I had no chance at, so when I got offered a spot I felt very incapable and unworthy. I thought other people deserved it more than me. Plus, drum corps is no cheap hobby. The Academy runs a strict bill of $3,500 not including airfare. I had college to pay for, and I had college to attend in four months! The tremendous weight of entering the new phase of my life while trying to achieve an expectation I thought was too great for me was too much to bear- or so I thought.
I called The Academy’s head coordinator and expressed my decision to step down as trainee- a far less demanding and costly position in the corps. I talked it over with my parents and we decided it would be best to spend the money on tuition instead of drum corps, and I felt a summer without band (which I hadn’t had in quite a long time) was much needed. But boy, did I change my mind fast. Did I really think I was going to give something up that easily? How could I sign a contract and simply give up a membership spot that over forty people from all over the country competed for? I couldn’t give so quickly- giving up can be harder than working for something, and it’s far less rewarding.
I remember the Sunday I decided to go through with my crazy plan: leave the day after graduation, march my summer away, and come back the day before college.