This week on DCI.org, we've been examining the similarities and differences between drum corps and athletics. Drumming and hockey might seem like similar activities -- both involve sticks, heavy accoutrements (pads and harnesses) and a certain degree of aggressiveness -- but for Heidi Stults, of the Cadets and the UMASS-Amherst women's hockey club team, the two activities are quite different. "The mindset of the hockey team is a lot different from corps," Stults, who plays defense and snare drum, said. "In the locker room before a game, the atmosphere is quite relaxed and laid back, sort of with that "just for fun" attitude (which is expected because it is a club team). At the gate before a show, the mindset is much more focused, serious, and can get pretty tense. It is actually very refreshing to have a competitive activity that I can participate in where every competition (game) doesn't feel like a life and death situation," Stults said.
Even though club-level hockey and drum corps require different attitudes, Stults still finds the opportunity to push herself in both realms. "One of the similarities I find between corps and sports is that feeling of pushing yourself no matter what. In drum corps, you are definitely pushed past what you think you can do and I try to take that to the ice as well, working and skating hard in practice," Stults said. Despite the UMASS hockey team's club status, Stults, of Carlsbad, Calif., admits she practices equally during the winter for both activities. "We have practice three times a week and as many as three games a weekend," Stults said. "With this schedule during the winter, I probably play hockey as much as I practice for corps (my own practice time plus camps)." This winter, Stults has watched her game get better and better. "Over winter break when we were on the ice every day, I improved considerably. It was rewarding and also refreshing to have something new that I could excel at. I've been drumming for a while and always have that in the back of my mind -- to get better. It's nice to have a new activity that I can work on apart from drumming," Stults said. When scheduling conflicts arise, Stults almost always chooses the Cadets over the Minutewomen. "Sometimes camps fall on weekends when we have games. In that situation I always go to the camps. Since the team is club, they aren't too strict about attendance when it comes to other commitments," Stults said. "My drumming career always comes before hockey because it is what I was involved in first and it is what I consider more of a professional career. Hockey is more for fun, although I still take it seriously," Stults said. Stults' Minutewoman teammates know the bare bones of her summer activity. "My teammates probably just know that I drum and am in the school marching band and do some sort of activity over the summer. I explain that I tour around the country, drumming and competing, but beyond that, I don't even try to tell them what drum corps is," Stults said. In the future, Stults plans to stay involved with drum corps and hockey, albeit on a lesser scale. "I do not plan to make a career out of drumming or hockey (haha, I wish), but I do want to stay involved in both activities. Perhaps I will tech a drum line somewhere (high school or a lower grade). I also want to keep playing hockey, even if it's just pick up games at the local rink. Those are two things I will definitely miss being a part of after college," Stults said.