Four local Smyrna students are now world champions in the music world after competing as members of the Reading Buccaneers Drum & Bugle Corps, which won the 2012 Drum Corps Association Championship Labor Day weekend.
Smyrna graduates Jeff Leager, Wesley White, Courtney Lane, and current Smyrna High senior Hakeem Nabi were members of the Buccaneers 128-member team who not only won the championship but also set a world-record 99.03 out of a possible 100 points in the finale. The competition took place over two days in Annapolis, Md.
According to the Reading Buccaneers website, the drum & bugle corps is a non-profit, education oriented, musical organization. The Bucs also perform in parades, concerts and field shows throughout the year and has won 11 DCA titles, including seven of the last eight seasons.
A new experience
For all four members, their involvement came to be after knowing someone else in the drum corps. Leager, a tuba player, has been involved for two years and joined to experience another level of artistry separate from the school band.
White, a bass drum player, participated with another drum & bugle corps before joining the Buccaneers in 2011. He originally joined after seeing his freshman year instructor perform: "I realized I liked the drum corps and knew it was something I wanted to do."
Lane, a three-year member, played the clarinet in the Smyrna High band, but the team only performs with brass, percussion and color guard, so the Buccaneers taught her how to play the trumpet.
"If you show up not knowing anything, they'll teach you. As long as your show up, they'll work with you through anything," Lane said.
Commitment and dedication
And all four-members will make a point to say being a member takes hard work, dedication and commitment. The team practices on weekends throughout the year and then every weekend in the summer. The Smyrna musicians would drive over two hours to Reading, Pa. for practice and spent the entire weekend practicing the same routine. Three-year member Nabi, a trumpet player, said it also takes a lot of patience. Participation also means basically putting one's life on hold. Nabi said he missed a lot of weddings this summer, but as one person of a 128-member team, you have to be selfless.
"There are over 125 people on the field with one goal to put on the best show possible," Nabi said. "If one person isn't focused or not at practice, it slows the whole group up."
The cherry on top
As most of the four Smyrna members have been involved with the team for a few years, they already knew what it was like winning the championship as the team won in 2010.
"I feel an enormous sense of pride and accomplishment," Leager said. "More importantly, I think of all the people I shared the same feeling with on that field in Annapolis."
White said coming off the field, winning was a sense of relief and the team knew coming off the field "we did what we had to do and achieved what we wanted to achieve."
More than a championship
Even though the team won a championship, each of the four Smyrna members said there was so much more to the win.
Nabi said getting his dog tag at the end of each year, he has three, has meant more than his two championships: "Just because you know you're Buccaneer. If I saw someone with a dog tag, I wouldn't say you're a champion, I'd say you're a Buccaneer. It's always my goal to get the dog tag."
Lane said she's made a lot of friendships and learned a lot as part of the group.
"I like the sense of family. I've made some lifetime friends," Lane said. "Each person has a different story, but we all share the same values of hard work. Marching with this great group of people that I love has really been a good lesson."
Email Jennifer Dailey at email@example.com.