The Blue Knights felt an obligation. To their fans. To their members. And to Denver.
A downpour on Broncos Stadium at Mile High had postponed the corps' home show, putting in jeopardy some members’ lone chance to perform in front of their friends and family.
After a few waiting hours and when conditions finally cleared, it was decided that the 10 corps would each do a 10-minute standstill performance. Better than no performance? Sure. But the Blue Knights were eager to knock the socks off their home crowd, a task that grows much more arduous without a full performing arsenal.
So, they went against the norm. Not up against a time limit as the show’s final performer, they weren’t going to let some rain deter them from pleasing the home fans.
“They come out with the decision that we’re going to do a standstill and we start to get ready for that and upper management was like, ‘You know what? No,’” fourth-year drum major Daniel Belcher said. “‘We’re going on last. It’s the home crowd, we’ve got to give Denver what they deserve.’
“The energy coming out here was phenomenal. This show for most of the corps is their favorite show, even more than [the DCI World Championship] Finals.”
With the DCI Southwestern Championship presented by Fred J. Miller, Inc. less than a week away, Belcher is confident the spark of Saturday's Denver performance will push his corps’ excitement and energy levels over the top for the season’s late stretch.
“I think the home show is going to be a huge jump for us,” he said. “The energy leaving the field tonight, I think that’s going to do a lot for us heading into the rest of the tour, heading into Texas week, getting ready for that, I think we’ve got a huge energy bump right now, riding high.”
Blue Knights weren’t judged at Saturday’s event, but based upon their last few competitions, the Denver corps is on pace for one of the better seasons in its 61-year history. Wednesday in Ogden, Utah, Blue Knights broke 80 points, which matched the earliest in a given season that the corps has reached that threshold in more than a decade.
Since Saturday’s Denver event wasn’t adjudicated, the corps went nearly a week without receiving another score, but made major noise in its first midwest performance, pushing ahead of The Cadets for the first time ever.
Belcher is the first to admit competitive success isn’t everything. That’s not to say, though, that it isn’t a nice added bonus.
“The progress the corps has made has been absolutely phenomenal,” he said. “Not just on the competitive side but the cultural side. We’ve put in a lot of work to create a corps ... our goal as a drum corps is to be the kindest drum corps in DCI. To be the most socially cohesive. And to have one of the best member experiences. That’s been top on the table this year.”
Belcher is in his age-out year. Like most in his situation, he’s still coping with that fact. Instead of sulking over it, though, he’s using it as motivation to be the best version of himself and benefit those around him.
“My biggest goal for my age-out, and how I’m going to come to terms with my age-out, is when I’m done, I want to feel like I have nothing left to give,” he said. “Nothing left to give — Like if I had another year it would just be redundant. I want to make a difference to the lives of the people here and then I’ll be satisfied.”