Troopers director Fred Morris was named the 2009 Dr. Bernard Baggs Leadership Award winner at the DCI World Championship Finals on Saturday, Aug. 8. Named after the longtime judge and board of directors advisor who passed away in 1998, the Baggs Award recognizes the outstanding director of the season as voted on by all World Class directors. "It's been a phenomenal year for me and these kids have been miraculous. The things we've accomplished this year far exceeded what we anticipated, and being named Director of the Year is just cream on the cake, man," Morris said. "It's just a great tribute to be honored by our peers with this type of award. To lead these young folks into this competition and see them accomplish what they have this year has just been stellar." Morris, who assumed the role of director for the Troopers in May of 2006, just before the season the corps did not compete, said his goal after getting the corps back on track financially was to make it into the Finals competition in three years—a goal that was realized after the World Championship Semifinals. "We're going to continue to grow the package for next year and go from there. It's going to be a great time," he said. Aaron Salazar, tuba section leader for the Troopers, was very pleased that Morris received the Dr. Bernard Baggs Award. "He totally deserves it for working as hard as he has these past three years, giving up almost everything, moving to Casper, Wyo., and just pouring his heart and soul into this organization. He's just unbelievable," he said.
Fred Morris (R) with DCI Executive Director Dan Acheson.
Legends Director Ibe Sodawalla was chosen as the 2009 Director of the Year by the directors of Open Class corps and honored as such following the Open Class Finals competition on Saturday, Aug. 8. Legends, who took 10th place at the Finals competition just four years after their competitive debut, was also named the most improved corps in 2009. "It's the most incredible honor to know that my colleagues recognized what we were able to do and saw that we were able to become a great drum corps this year. It means a great deal to have that respect from your colleagues," Sodawalla said. "It's all about the patience of building, making sure that you do it in great stages," he said about building the corps. "Every time you want to be ambitious maybe take one quick step back and say 'is this something we are capable of doing?' That's the biggest thing I've learned in building this corps is that you just have to do what you know that you can and do it very well. Hopefully year after year you can just add on another layer to it."
Ibe Sodawalla (R) with Open Class Coord. David Eddleman.