After last Friday's age-out ceremony, numerous notes and artifacts were left on the field. We'll be publishing these intermittently over the next couple days. Here's a note that was folded up and emblazoned with a Capital Regiment logo: To whom it may concern, My name is Matthew Douglas Briddell, and tonight I am aging out of drum and bugle corps as a member of Capital Regiment. For me, this is the end of a three-year-long chapter of my life that has shown me countless things about myself and about life. I first started marching drum corps in 2001, with Pioneer, because I was looking to continue the experiences I had had in high school by participating in a competitive marching band. I had a good rookie season, but I ultimately decided to move on. After a few months of searching, I found a new home at Capital Regiment. I remember feeling welcome and comfortable with the staff and the members from the first moment I was there, and I had my expectations for being with a competitive corps met as we challenged for the Division II championship. Even though we came up one spot short in the end, the memories of that season will last for me the rest of my life. In 2003, I decided to return to Capital for my age-out season as the corps embarked on its first full season in Division I. I knew that my prior experience with Pioneer would bew helpful to the younger members of our corps who had no idea what was in store for them. My last season was frustrating at times, as I struggled to find my role in the corps as a veteran and an age-out, and as I tried to help our younger members find the maturity they would need to be successful. Ultimately, I was rewarded as our corps came together to perform its best show of the season at World Championships. Even though we finished a little lower in the rankings than we would have liked, I did not feel any sadness upon realizing my career was over. Instead, I felt a sense of relief as I realized that my struggles were over, and that I had done everything I could to perfect my own show and to establish Capital Regiment as a viable corps for the future. With my goals in drum corps fulfilled, I can put all this aside as for a while as I work toward getting my teaching license and a real job. However, I know that I'll never be too far away from drum corps. This activity has taken root in me, and I will do it again someday, either as a member of a senior corps or as a staff member. Drum corps has taught me that I can do anything I put my mind and my full energy into. It has made me the person that I am today, and I will be eternally grateful. What I leave behind: I was looking for a common thread through my time in drum corps to use as my last good-bye on age-out night. That thread was my hats that I wore during the summer. Each of the three years I marched, I wore a different Indiana University hat. One of them no longer survives, but the other two do, and I am leaving them on the field tonight. I am also leaving a third hat. It is not mine. It belonged to a member of our contra line named Alex Eickhoff. He had a habit of leaving his hat in my bus seat or letting it fall down into my personal space. I warned him on numerous occasions that if he ever left his hat on my seat again, I would take it and age it out. Tonight, as a good-knowing practical joke, I am making good on my promise.
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