6 Things You Need To Know for September 2016!

1. Historic Words from Historic Bluecoats on a Historic Day  

It was just a few weeks ago that the Bluecoats turned DCI Down Side Up with the first ever championship.  We asked some past directors and key staff to reflect on the championship:

  • ralphmRalph McCauley (one of the Founding Fathers and retired Canton Police Officer)
    “It’s been a long, uphill struggle but we finally did it.  I am very happy and excited to be the 2016 DCI World Champs.  The thing that I am most proud of are all the members – from 1972 to the present time. I have seen this corps produce attorneys, police officers, doctors, dentists, teachers, drum corps staff and many more professionals who have become role models in their community. I’m proud of all our volunteers now and in the past, plus the original Ghetto Bug Gang (Ernie Adams, deceased) that I drove for several years, big white wall tires and all.  Love You All.”
  • Bloo History 16 kevin title (2)Kevin Armbruster (original member, former instructor)
    “2016 was a season dreams were made of for sure.  We never could have imagined the things being done on the field by the 2016 corps when we were marching in the ’70’s, but we always dreamed the big dream. Who would have ever thought a group that started with such humble beginnings, practicing in a Police Boys Club with the drum line in the two-lane bowling alley, would change the drum corps world with such a progressive, yet relatable, show. What other corps survived two folded seasons to reach the top of the mountain?In the ’80’s we struggled to rebuild and had peaks and valleys of success but always still had the big dream, although the dream seemed closer as the decade came to an end and we finally broke into finals in 1987.At last, the big dream came to life, courtesy of the 2016 version of the corps! I am one of many extremely proud alumni who was honored to be photo-bombed by the entire corps for the alumni photo at the Hall of Fame show…a very cool moment! Thank you to the 2016 World Champions for such a memorable summer!”
  • ted sTed Swaldo (former director, current Director Emeritus)
    In 1984 I had a dream that someday the Bluecoats would win the World Championship . Little did I know it would take 32 years . It was a great victory and judging from the crowd response the vast majority of spectators were rooting for us. We have fans all over the world.This victory is a tribute to all the volunteer , alumni  and staff who helped build the Corps foundation .  And I can’t tell you how proud it makes me to see the Alumni perform !  It brings back a lot of great memories . I have seen the benefits of belonging to the Bluecoats and see what fine young adults all of them have become. I hope in some small way I contributed in their growth and maturity.  Together we defined the Bluecoats’ personality, image and value system – but it took Dave and Genevieve to make World Champion a reality .  They have guided this organization for the past 13 years and are responsible for today’s success. Dave’s management style and professionalism has built a staff that is the best in Drum Corps. Also, all of the marching members were extraordinary!  While us old timers bask in the glory of winning the Championship, let’s remember to thank the current director, his staff, the volunteers and current members for a remarkable season. I can’t wait to see what this design team offers next year.I personally want to thank Doug Thrower for his 25 years of service .  It is hard to believe he wrote this years show and the Beatle’s show. That exemplifies the growth of this organization.  Go Blooooooo.”
  • larryhLarry Hershman (Program Coordinator)
    “In addition to congratulating this year’s staff and membership, there are a few other acknowledgements from me.  First to the people who marched 86/87, thank you!  You drove the transition from hometown corps to the national recognition.  Second, to the people who didn’t leave the corps after 1999 and marched in 2000, thank you!  Your dedication set the stage for what finally happened this year.  And finally to Dave Glasgow who lived through 1999/2000 and learned from it.  Dave you were named DCI Director of the Year in 2014 and while that is something to be proud of, it falls short.  You are the Director of the Decade!”
  • billhBill Hamilton (Original member, Instructional Staff, former Director)
    “A lot of history was going through my mind that night.  I remembered what it was like to have the goal of merely getting a corps on the field, to making the top 25 to making finals, to placing in the top 6.  When I was marching, we always thought there was something different about the corps at the top.  But now, 6 words….I remembered the struggles and disappointments of 79 and 83, and also the passion and commitment of our founders, Art, Tom and Ralph.  Standing next to the trophy was surreal and the impact probably hasn’t hit me yet.”
  • david gDavid Glasgow (current Director)
    “To think of where our organization has been in various points of our history, from folding twice to, to starting the 1984 season with the handful of kids in a gym playing basketball, to be where we are today is an amazing feeling.  It’s truly a testament to EVERYONE who helped us get here – all of our alumni, all of our former staff & volunteers and of course our outstanding group of people currently associated with the Bluecoats.  All that said – we are not done!  Plans for 2017 are already in motion!”

2. The formation of a true alumni organization.  

In 2012, the 40th Anniversary of the Bluecoats brought many alumni together.  Two years later, the formation of an alumni performance ensemble (Rhythm IN BLUE) coupled with a fantastic corps program (Tilt) kindled the increased involvement of alumni with the organization. Through Social Media a large group began to bounce ideas around on how to further engage the alumni, interact with the corps and provide additional support to the organization.  By the Spring of 2016 a committee of 11 people came together to funnel the many ideas and bring them to fruition.  The Alumni Committee is comprised of:

  • Andy Golden, Anthony “Duck” Mallard, Allison Page, Chris Groves, Jay Wise, Jeff Wise, Kevin Stahl, Nancy Johnson, Ryan Shepherd,Vicky Wielosinski, Victor Colaianni

3. 2016 – An amazing Alumni Year!  

  • For the first time ever, we ran a fundraising campaign during the first six days of Autumn called the $6 Words campaign. The goal was for alums to donate $6 towards the Membership Scholarships and in the end over $3,000 was raised.
  • In late winter we announced sponsorship for the annual History Night in May, and raised almost another $3,000 to cover an age-out graphic and special t-shirts for the entire corps.
  • March saw the brass at their brass-only camp treated to Italian take-out courtesy of the alumni raising $2,000.
  • In April a call to action was met when it was learned a few multi-year vets were in danger of not marching their age-out year due to financial difficulties, and those members were able to march 2016.  
  • In May we began a corps-wide Adopt-a-Member program, which took the long-standing color guard adoptions through all the ranks. Over 100 members were paired with alumni “buddies” throughout the eras.  
  • Over Memorial Day weekend, the most elaborate History Night came together, with speakers throughout all eras and performances by Rhythm IN BLUE, our alumni ensemble and a catered meal for the corps courtesy of the alumni.
  • Not stopping when the season started, alumni dropped more dollars on the corps to sponsor Xmas in July so that every member was treated to a stocking and gifts, with many more members receiving more courtesy of the adopted alumni sending gifts to the housing site.  
  • And finally in an last-minute pitch in July to help fund Rhythm IN BLUE’s inaugural appearance at the SoundSport gala in Indianapolis, alumni purchased special Down Side Up Alumni t-shirts that raised another $3,000.  

All told, over the past year alumni have donated over $12,000 to the corps in various ways!

4. Rhythm IN BLUE continues to grow in 2016

Rhythm IN BLUE successfully fielded an ensemble for the third consecutive season, with the Legacy Arc performing at Innovations in Brass and the Hall of Fame Festival show, the smaller ensemble format, Curbside, performed at the Lymphoma Society Light up the Night walk, Canton’s Light up Downtown Holiday Festival, the Hall of Fame Marathon, Innovations in Brass, Deercreek Dam Days Festival, ArtsinStark J-Jams Lunch concert, the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game Day Enshrinee Roundtable, the Hall of Fame Festival Drum Corps Show, North Canton Main Street Festival and the Walk to Defeat ALS in Akron.

New for 2016, Rhythm IN BLUE hit the road for Indianapolis and competed in the SoundSport International Music & Food Festival, bringing home a SILVER medal rating. 26 members of Rhythm IN BLUE comprised the inaugural SoundSport edition of the ensemble.

5. 2017 Alumni Plans to Steam Ahead! (contributed by Jeff Wise)

To help everyone plan for the 2017 Bluecoats season a timeline was created to help visualize the timing of various events, fundraisers and volunteer opportunities. That timeline is shown here and please note it will be updated over the offseason if/when more opportunities present themselves. Updated timelines will be posted in the Bluecoats Alumni group on Facebook.

campaign timelineThe green items on the timeline represent events that involve fundraising. The black items represent alumni events that include planning time, volunteer time and organizing. A couple of events include upfront fundraising and backend organization and show up in green and black.

 The big red block in the December area corresponds with the traditional end-of-year giving that many folks do to help with taxes. The only year-round item is bingo, the corps can always use help running the bingo games at the Champion Events Center.

The purpose of this timeline is to help alumni plan how you can help the Bluecoats for 2017. At present there are five major opportunities for giving (outside of the usual scholarship donations that can be done on Bluecoats.com). We’ll kick off the fundraising with the Six Words campaign that coincides with the beginning of Autumn.

Once camps start, there will be plenty of opportunities to sponsor a meal – whether at a winter camp, spring training or during the summer tour. History Night has quickly become a major alumni/member event and the alumni will again sponsor a meal and provide some early season swag for the members.

Christmas in July was a big hit last summer and the goal for 2017 is to scale it up so that every member receives a gift, and lastly there is the DCI-led DCI Challenge where all corps compete over a week to see who can raise the most funds.

On the organizational side, there are also five major opportunities, the biggest of which for 2017 will be Innovations In Brass. As many of you are aware this year will be the 40th anniversary of the corps playing Bridge Over Troubled Waters, the 30th anniversary of becoming a DCI Finalist which included the seminal song Autumn Leaves and of course we’ll be joyously celebrating the corps’ World Championship all summer long – all this means there’s planning starting already to make Innovations be an alumni blow-out event of Larry Hershman proportions.

Prior to Innovations will be History Night which we’ll need some help with organizing, soon after that will be the Adopt-A-Member program, followed by coordination of Christmas In July and then finally the alumni again will be involved with helping the 2017 class of Bloo ageouts crossover into Alumni land.

In short lots and lots of exciting stuff happening this year and lots and lots of opportunities for alumni to get involved – whether helping out from where you live or coming to Canton to be a part of things, or both! Our hope is this timeline can help you plan out your involvement and get your vacations and travel plans worked out so we can see you early and often next summer.

Look for further details and a form for you to indicate your desire to help — and in what capacity — in the October Blue Review!

6. Alumni Feature… Bob Rohrbaugh (contributed by Victor Colaianni)

Bob Rohrbaugh – 1976 as a Bluecoats snare

Bob Rohrbaugh marched in Bluecoats from 1974 to 1977.  His first performance was the Bluecoats’ first judged competition and Bob’s last performance was the corps first DCI prelim appearance in Boulder, Colorado in 1977.  Bob notes many fond memories from those beginning years, but a few stand out.  “There was an enormous sense of satisfaction in a continual improvement of the corps, and especially regarding the drumline over the four years he marched,”  Bob states, “Our first drum score was a 2 (out of 20), but we still beat another corps (Erie Mavericks).  We kept the same snare line together for the duration of my Bluecoats career and as a result became kind of a “family”, and by the summer of 1977 we were scoring in the 17’s.”  Bob Rohrbaugh had the privilege of aging out during the year the corps played “Bridge over Troubled Water” as a closer. Bob shares, “We played a 33-count roll while walking backwards, which to my knowledge is the still the longest roll in drum corps history. It was almost always clean (the exception being that it was somewhat pulsed due to nervousness during DCI prelims), but during the U.S. Open finals that year was absolutely perfect.  At the final release of the roll, I still remember the drum judge smiling and then walking away.”  Bob and the rest of the drum line felt at that point the Bluecoats had finally “made it” after 4 years of hard work.

Bob currently lives in Washington State on the Kitsap Peninsula, about 15 miles west of Seattle.  He retired in January 2016 after working as an electronics engineer for the U.S. Navy where he designed aircraft carrier radio systems for 6 years and was involved with acoustic testing of submarines for almost 30.  There was frequent travel involved in the job to mostly west coast naval stations and Hawaii. “At one point I spent a total of over 1,000 days at our submarine acoustic range in Alaska,” he said. Rohrbaugh has worked on most of the submarines in the U.S. Fleet, spending from 1 day to 2 weeks at sea on each boat.

When asked what types of ‘life lessons’ being involved in drum corps taught him, Bob eagerly shared, I would say the greatest lesson learned by being in the Bluecoats is the level of accomplishment that is possible when one is able to shed some of their ego and become part of a team.”  “Our drum line, which had some incredibly talented members, only became successful when the individuals “stepped outside” of themselves to listen and become part of the other bodies in the line”  That is a lesson that is difficult to implement in practice, and is something that is foreign to most people that have never participated in activities such as drum corps, team sports, or the military.

Bob Rohrbaugh was fortunate to be a part of the Bluecoats in the early years, and even he had some interesting thoughts about the corps winning their first DCI World Championship.  “I will be honest – I never expected to live to see the Bluecoats win a title,” he said.  “I was in a state of euphoria for several days after that winning night, and it is still hard to believe it has happened.”

Bob Rohrbaugh today drumming with a Seattle area alumni drum line.

Bob continues to drum, and has been part of an alumni corps dr um line in the Seattle area since 1983, made up mostly of former Blue Devils, Santa Clara Vanguard, Seattle Imperials, and other west coast corps members from the 70’s and 80’s.  He shared this about his involvement in the line going forward:  “I will no longer feel like an outsider during discussions of the “other” championship corps.  This is a great time to be a Bluecoat!”

Indeed it is a great time to be a Bluecoat, Bob, and we’re proud to call you a BLOO brother!


billrAn early corps jacket, with a throwback t-shirt to the first logo, an early member (Bill Roubanes, ’76 – ’81) and the DCI Championship trophy. Fittingly together after August’s Championship.