By Allison Owen Just to humor myself, I decided to count how many times I was called a nerd/geek/etc. -- referring to my love for drum corps -- in one week: 23 times. Whether it be for humming Phantom Regiment's show as I walk down the hall at school, attempting the Cadets' dance routines or the Bluecoats' flagwork in class, or for spending my free time -- when I'm not practicing -- watching DCI videos and listening to past shows, I get called a "nerd" quite often.

Allison Owen
Now maybe you've been called worse, but this took me by surprise. I mean it's all in fun -- and I know that -- but 23 times is a lot in just one week. I'll come back to that thought in a second though; first, let me tell you about some interesting events that happened this week.

On Friday I ran into a guy at the local university that had on this jacket that looked somewhat familiar. As I approached him I realized that it was a Phantom Regiment member jacket. I stopped and talked to him for a few minutes; he had marched with Phantom's brass recently, although he didn't specify which instrument. It was cool to know that someone in this city had marched there, because I think Phantom has wonderful shows with an incredible brass section.

Then on Saturday at a band competition, I ran into my friend Matt's dad -- more commonly known as Mr. B -- and he had on a SPIRIT T-shirt. Needless to say, I just had to stop and talk to Mr. B during a break. See, his son, Matt, had marched SPIRIT last year at the same age that I am now, so he knows what it will be like for me if I make it into SPIRIT this year. It's nice to have people in my area who know what I'll be going through and can give me tips.

I'm starting to realize that drum corps people -- alumni, current members and fans alike -- are everywhere. It took a while for me to realize it, but there are "nerds" like me all over the country, and even the world. Knowing this gives me the encouragement to keep on loving drum corps despite the teasing I get from my friends who don't understand. They can make fun of me all they want, but I'm the one who will be doing something incredible with my summer while they stay around their houses and maybe go to the beach. On a side note I'd like to thank all the readers who have been sending in notes of encouragement; you don't know how much I appreciate it. Thanks to you all I can really see that I am the one who will have the experience of a lifetime this summer.

Speaking of this "experience of a lifetime," the audition camp schedule and section leaders announcement for SPIRIT were released this past week. It's hard for me to believe that this is really happening. In a little over a month I will be auditioning for a top-12 Division I drum and bugle corps. I will be living my dream.

I feel lucky to have discovered the art of drum corps now and to have parents who never said "no" when I asked if I could march. I now have several years (hopefully) ahead of me in this amazing activity. So check back next week to see how this experience of a lifetime unfolds for me. Thanks for sharing the excitement.