Big weekend in Dayton!

A crowd of nearly 10,000 watched the pageantry of WGI Color Guard World Championships this weekend at The University of Dayton Arena. It was the perfect moment to celebrate the past, present, and the future endeavors of the Bluecoats and those who’ve helped us reach our goals.

On the eve of competition finals, representatives from the Bluecoats and members of the WGI community attended 2017 WGI Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. The Bluecoats celebrated the induction of their Artistic Director, Jon Vanderkolff. Vanderkolff has been working with the corps since 2013. His innovation in design and dedication to the corps has helped to create unforgettable moments in Bluecoats history. With the help of Vanderkolff, the Bluecoats continue to explore new avenues and innovations for their programs and expand opportunities for young performers.

One of these new opportunities was unveiled as the weekend ramped up for competition.  Bluecoats Indoor will joining WGI in 2018 as an Independent World Class Color Guard under the direction of Bluecoats Executive Director David Glasgow. Bluecoats Artistic Director Jon Vanderkolff, Choreographer Jim Moore, Choreographer Greg Lagola, and Choreographer Carol Abohatab will serve as the creative team for the program.

This year the Bluecoats were also a proud to be the sponsor of Artistry IN BLUE. This was their 9th season of competition and they competed in the Independent Open Class. Their program “Sailing Away” earned a final score of 77.70 at the 2017 Independent Open Prelims.


Introducing Bluecoats Indoor

The Bluecoats, a non-profit youth education organization based in Canton, Ohio, are proud to announce the founding of Bluecoats Indoor, an exciting and innovative new performing arts program operating primarily in the Indianapolis, Indiana area.

Bluecoats Indoor, launching as a WGI Winterguard for the 2018 competitive season, will be under the direction of Bluecoats Executive Director David Glasgow.  Bluecoats Artistic Director Jon Vanderkolff, Choreographer Jim Moore, Choreographer Greg Lagola, and Choreographer Carol Abohatab will serve as the creative team for the program.  Christopher Drake will serve as Ensemble Administrator.

Glasgow is very excited to expand the scope of the Bluecoats organization’s programs.  “In recent years, our design team has successfully developed a very unique brand of entertainment focused on searching for what’s “next” in our activity.  We can’t wait to extend this design philosophy to a new creative outlet for the Bluecoats.”

Jon, Jim, Greg and Carol have successfully worked together on many projects over the past 20 years.  Most recently, the four of them served as the primary designers for the WGI World Champion Santa Clara Vanguard Winterguard from 2006-2016.  In addition, they serve as designers and choreographers for the Bluecoats, winning the DCI World Championship in 2016 with the popular production “Down Side Up.”  Jon and Jim were also longtime members of the creative team for the Tony and Emmy award-winning production Blast!

For more information about Bluecoats Indoor, please visit  Stay tune for more exciting details including audition dates & locations, additional staff announcements, and much more!


Q:  What is Bluecoats Indoor?

A:  Bluecoats Indoor is a new performing arts program competing as a WGI Winterguard for the 2018 WGI competitive season.  Bluecoats Indoor will apply the organization’s unique and innovative design philosophy in an indoor performance setting.

Q:  Where and when will Bluecoats Indoor audition and rehearse?

A:  Bluecoats Indoor will primarily rehearse in the Indianapolis, Indiana area.  We are in the process of finalizing facilities now, and will announce audition dates and locations in the weeks to come.

Q:  What WGI Class will Bluecoats Indoor compete in?

A:  We intend to participate in WGI World Class.

Q:  Who is eligible to perform in Bluecoats Indoor?

A:  Men and women of any age are eligible to perform in Bluecoats Indoor.  Previous competitive Colorguard and/or Winterguard experience is strongly encouraged.

Q:  Who is on staff for Bluecoats Indoor?

A:  Leading this new program will be Bluecoats Artistic Director Jon Vanderkolff, Choreographer Jim Moore, Choreographer Greg Lagola, and Choreographer Carol Abohatab.  Additional staffing announcements will be made in the weeks to come.

Q:  How much will Bluecoats Indoor cost?

A:  The fee structure for Bluecoats Indoor will be announced prior to auditions.

Q:  Will the status of the Bluecoats’ Ohio-based Winterguard “Artistry IN BLUE” be affected as a result of the foundation of Bluecoats Indoor?

A:  No, “Artistry IN BLUE” will continue to operate as it has for many successful seasons.

Q:  Who can I contact with additional questions? 

A:  Contact us at, or 330-433-9115 x2.


Alumni in the News: Spring 2017

Marching with the Bluecoats gives members a diverse experience and after drum corps they move on to very varied lifestyles.  Here are three recent news articles featuring our very own!

Home is where the Kidney is (Dr. Lynsey Biondi: Baritone, 1994)

Dr. Biondi: 1994, current

After Lynsey’s marching days she turned to medicine and is now a sought-after specialist with Kidney transplants.  Recently featured in the Ft. Myers, Florida news, Dr. Biondi was recruited by the the Gulf Coast Medical Center to re-start their Kidney transplant program.  Lynsey married within the Bloo family to Craig Biondi (Soprano, 1994-1995). The two previously lived in the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania before “transplanting” the family south.

Lisa Stan King, right, from 1980

Park and Play! (Lisa Stan King, Color Guard, 1977-1980)

Lisa is the Executive Director of the Summit County Metroparks, being named to the position in September 2, 2015.  The Metroparks entertains 5 million visitors each year with over 14,000 acres of land managed, including parts of the popular Ohio & Erie Canal towpath recreation trail.  Earlier in April she was featured in Crain’s Cleveland Business.

Chris Barbaro in 1986

Music Matters (Chris Barbaro, Contra, 1985-1989)

Chris Barbaro is the director of bands for Amherst Exempted Village Schools west of Cleveland, Ohio.  His all brass marching band program is one of the strongest in the region, having made the state marching band finals now 15 years in a row.  Recently he was highlighted with other music teachers in the Elyria Chronicle extolling the virtues of music in the schools.



Alumni Feature: Brad Gessner

Brad Gessner, 1981-1982, Soprano/Drum Major; 1986-2008 Volunteer/Board Member

Brad Gessner joined the Bluecoats in 1981 marching soprano, and returned in 1982 as drum major. After aging out, he drove a bus for the Bluecoats, sold souvies, and occasionally cooked. He was also on the Bluecoats Board of Directors from 1986-2008, serving ten years as Chairman of the Board, and was inducted into the Bluecoats Hall of Fame in 1994.  Brad grew up in Austintown, Ohio where he currently resides. He is a lawyer who serves as Chief Counsel for the Summit County Prosecutor in Akron, Ohio. He and his wife Marylou have two children: Kylie is a student at Walsh University and plays the trumpet, and Conor is a snare drummer at Austintown Fitch High School. In his spare time, Brad likes painting, coaching youth soccer, and helping with band fundraising.


Bluecoats/EN-RICH-MENT partner on Percussion Competition for local youth

In an on-going partnership with outstanding Stark County youth organization EN-RICH-MENT,  we are proud to present the EN-RICH-MENT Stark County Youth Percussion Competition on Saturday May, 20th 2017 at the McKinley High School Downtown Campus Auditorium in Canton, Ohio.


Each contestant will have up to two minutes to showcase their skills in one of two classes – marching percussion using a marching snare, quads, or bass drum, or free-style percussion using buckets, trash cans or homemade instruments.  Each class will have three age groups – 8-10, 11-13, 14-16.  The cost to enroll is $10 per person.

In addition to an overall winner in each class, our judges will select a winner from each age group.  Each winner will receive a trophy.  In addition, the overall winner from the marching percussion class will win $100, and a “behind the scenes” experience with the 2017 Bluecoats Drumline at Innovations in Brass: Massillon on Saturday, June 24th.  The overall winner from the free-style class will win $100, and a one hour lesson with a Cleveland Cavaliers Q-Stix performer (date TBA based on availability).

Serving as judges for the competition are two members of the Cleveland Cavaliers Q-Stix, and the McKinley High School Director of Bands.  If you need instruments, or a place to practice, LET US KNOW!  We will also have instruments available on the day of the competition.

Also, four or more top contestants in each age group will be given the opportunity to participate in the EN-RICH-MENT Drumline, including access to clinics performed by instructors from the Bluecoats and the opportunity to perform in community events, parades, and much more!

The EN-RICH-MENT Stark County Youth Percussion Competition will conclude with performances by the EN-RICH-MENT drumline, the Bluecoats Quad Line, and the Cleveland Cavaliers Q-Stix!  

See below for more information on the Bluecoats’ relationship with EN-RICH-MENT.

For more information on how to join the drumline academy, please contact EN-RICH-MENT at 330-546-7724 or

The Bluecoats Drum & Bugle Corps, Inc. is a 501(c)3 Stark County nonprofit youth educational organization with a mission to provide programs for youth in music and performance training. Leadership, personal, character and social development skills are emphasized through the challenge, excitement, and self-discipline provided by the corps through nationwide travel, competition and the pursuit of excellence.   For more information, visit or

EN-RICH-MENT is a 501(c)3 Stark County nonprofit organization with a mission to provide music, education, instruments, art, dance classes and voice classes free of charge to under-served urban youth ages 5 through 18 years. Students are offered high-level learning opportunities through classes in music theory, history of various genres of music, and musicianship. They also receive private/group lessons and rehearse and perform in concerts and community events. For more information, visit

Alumni Feature: John Kowal

John Kowal: 1979-1983, ’85 Percussion

John Kowal became a Bluecoat in 1979 and marched in Bluecoats and Phantom Regiment until 1986, his age-out year. John is presently living just outside of Houston Texas, working as a mechanical engineer for the NASA Johnson Space Center. He has one twelve year old son and two step-daughters ages 19 and 23.

Q: How has Bluecoats impacted your life?
A: One of the things I’ve noticed about different organizations or institutions is the difference in the impact the people have had on me. The camaraderie in drum and bugle corps, Bluecoats, is that thirty years later I can go back and compare people from then and now; the members look different but they are still the same. It’s as if I stopped marching last year. I’ve been to events like High School reunions. The people are different and it feels strange. In Bluecoats, bonds last a lifetime. I always strive to do my best; perfection is my goal. I got my feet wet in college and applied that attitude for college which led directly to my employment with NASA. (more…)

Now Accepting Bluecoats HOF Nominations

The Bluecoats are now accepting nominations for our Hall of Fame!

Click here for a description of the nomination process.  If you have photographs, anecdotes, or other information to add to Hall of Fame member biographies, please send them to  You can view a full listing of all Bluecoats Hall of Fame members here.

Act now as nominations are due on April 1st!

Social perspective: Bluecoats in Hong Kong