Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sh!t Like a Champion

If you're not familiar with the above logo, here's the wikipedia explanation of The Concord Blue Devils and Drum Corps International.





I spent 6 years from age 16-22 traveling and performing with two groups that participated in DCI. During my last two years with the Blue Devils before I "aged out" (members cannot be more than 21 years old) we were fortunate enough to win World Championships both years; in 1996 we tied with another group (total B.S. if you ask me) and in 1997 we won it outright.





The cool part is that I have some sweet 'bling and bragging rights for the rest of my life. Seriously, we were treated like rockstars when we went to Japan (all expenses paid!) and other former 'corps members speak with a little awe in their voice when they ask you what years you marched "Dude, you guys were awesome that year." Me: "Thanks. I really appreciate that." It makes all the hard work we put in to rehearsals worth it.

...and rehearse we did; up to 12 hours a day. Auditions in November (yes, you had to try out and yes, it was nerve wracking), Sunday rehearsals starting in January, monthly "camps" that lasted Friday at 5PM until Sunday at 5 PM. Memorial Day Weekend we rehearsed from Friday all the way to Monday; starting in June, we'd practice from 10 AM to 10PM and then jump on buses and travel all over the country performing for crowds of over 20,000 people. The year World Championships came to the Rose Bowl, the front side of the stands sold out. This is a huge deal for lots of people all over the world...chances are you've never heard of it.

Which brings me to the 'post title: "Sh!t Like a Champion". I believe it started in 1994
(before I began marching with the Blue Devils and while I was still marching with the now-defunct "Velvet Knights"... an entire BOOK worth of stories by itself).

One of the instructors was in the middle of motivating the members and, reportedly since I wasn't around yet, was explaining that you will approach rehearsals the same way you approach mundane tasks in your daily life.

The Point: if you want to be a World Champion, everything you do must be done "all the way". No half-measures, no going through the motions. Everything you do in life, do it like a World Champion would do it. In short, Sh!t Like a Chamion.

The members (remember we're talking about 14-21 year-olds) latched on to it and it became a 'corps mantra such that it was in regular use when I joined in 1995 (they would go on to win the World Championships in 1994; their first since 1986).

It's a pretty silly saying, but think about it in a broader context. Everything you do from the moment you wake up to the minute you go to bed should be done to the best of your ability. If it's worth doing, why half-ass it? Why slack through that 3rd interval just because there's 2 more?

Seriously, when I'm beat down and don't feel like hitting a workout, I ask myself what would "so and so" do? would he (or she) bag this workout? No way....and so I won't either.

So my work ethic makes a little more sense to those of you who know me well.

Rain, heat, wind, cold, dark, it didn't matter, you kept going and kept practicing and rehearsing. Illness, injury; none of it mattered except being the best 'corps on the field and hearing them call out your name as World Champions. Winners got to re-perform their show as a "Victory Concert" after awards; a musical version of a victory lap. Imagine 60+ brass players standing less than 10' feet away from you playing their asses-off; I guarantee it's the loudest thing you'll ever hear that's not amplified.

There's a 'blurb on the Wikipedia page about an infamous show where the lights went out over the entire city at one of Blue Devils' shows in 1999...they kept playing even in the dark (shows are performed at night). That should give you an idea of the dedication and professionalism you learn as a part of the Blue Devils legacy.

Winning is awesome. Go Sh!t Like a Champion.

E.

1 comment:

Justin said...

cool concept, but i can see how you would over train or wind up with injuries if you are trying to be Lance Armstrong with every workout.

we aren't all cut out to be world champions, but we can challenge ourselves to be the best we can be.

how about "Be the best shit you can be!"