Usually, a 6-foot, 3-inch defensive tackle prowls the football gridiron looking for fresh offensive meat to mow down. But this summer, Regis "Tiny" Andrez, all 290 pounds of him, will be prowling the football gridiron hauling a contrabass on his shoulder instead of an opposing quarterback -- he's marching with the Blue Knights of Denver.Since he was in the sixth grade, Andrez has played football and performed music with equal abandon. At Cleburne High School outside of Ft. Worth, Texas, he marched in the band and played on its football team. Now 20 years old and on his way to Texas Christian University in Fort Worth (he's transferring there from Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas) in the fall, Andrez plans to play football there starting in the spring of 2003. NCAA rules make a player sit out one season when transferring from a Division II school to a Division I school."It's pretty much parallel," Andrez says of the two activities that seem so different yet require much the same mental mindset and physical conditioning. The intensity of college football and the intensity of drum corps met head-on during the first Blue Knights audition camp, when Andrez gave himself the nickname. To break the ice, the giant-sized Andrez introduced himself as Tiny. "Everyone started laughing," Andrez said. "It's a lot of fun to have him in the corps. He's a very likeable person," said Mark Arnold, executive director of the Blue Knights. "He's hard-working, and he likes to keep things lively in rehearsal," Arnold said.Andrez says that the cardiovascular conditioning part of the Blue Knights regimen is putting him in fine shape for the football field. "We run so much (to condition), and our show is intense. We stand still 30 seconds at the most. My cardiovascular (condition) is just great now," Andrez said, a condition that will suit him well on the TCU Horned Frogs' football squad – a good defensive tackle combines the attributes of size, speed and athleticism. Andrez also noted that the high altitude (and subsequent lack of oxygen) of the Denver area has added another element to his cardiovascular workouts. "The altitude makes for as good workout. The altitude kicks my butt. At the end of the day I'm pretty sore and tired," Andrez said."(Both activities are) physically demanding, yet it's something you want to do, so you make sacrifices," Andrez said of the similarities between drum corps and college football. Andrez added that both demand a huge dose of "mental toughness."Horned Toads defense fans should note that Andrez isn't losing weight, because he often squeezes in a round of weights in the weight room at the school the corps is staying at. "I haven't lost mass, but I've lost inches," Andrez said. Meanwhile, Andrez hones his dexterity by playing ultimate Frisbee with the other members of the Blue Knights on the road. "All these guys are littler than me so it's a challenge to keep up," Andrez said of his ultimate Frisbee prowess.After college, Andrez plans to combine his love for the tuba with his love for football. He wants to find a small school where he can teach music as well as coach. The Dallas Cowboys are Tiny's favorite football team, and the Blue Knights are his favorite drum corps. "I've wanted to march with the Knights ever since I was a freshman in high school," Andrez said.
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