Courtney A. Mills is a school secretary in Spring, Texas. She marched in the Carolina Crown guard from 1996 through 1999 and taught there in 2000. It's a slow day here at the middle school I work for. Not a lot of referrals to process, no kids in my office to baby-sit, and not a lot of paperwork. So, as I wander through media clips of winter guard, drum lines and drum corps, I realize how absolutely special this activity is and I feel compelled to write about it. I got hooked on the activity after my band director at Seminole High School in Florida said we should go check out this drum corps that was rehearsing nearby. It was the summer of '93 and the corps was Star of Indiana. At the time, I had never seen anything like it. I was a freshman clarinet in a stellar marching band program, but from that moment on I wanted to be in the color guard. I fought both my parents and the band director to join the color guard instead of the marching band. They weren't down with that. They all agreed I would have wonderful success getting a scholarship in clarinet performance. But I was persistent and won my case. My involvement in color guard has turned into an undying passion that is only understood by those that have marched in the drum corps and winter guard activities. And for those that know me, they know I am genuinely in love with it. As a marching member in the late '90s, I was fortunate enough to march all my years with some of the most amazing people in DCI and WGI. I have been blessed with receiving instruction from some of the well-known greats in both activities and some of the not-so-well known great as well. Most of all, I am so lucky to still have the passion in my heart that beats for the next generation of young people that embrace what I have for so many years. The beauty of our activity is the network of people that continually grows and branches out to all ages. It's like that "six degrees of separation" game. We are all only separated by a few people, by a few years, in a few different corps. It is our bond, it is what makes most of us tick, and as every year passes, the community gets bigger in size, but the clientele remain the same. We are all passionate people that wear our corps jackets to any band, color guard, or drum corps function in the hopes that someone in our network will find us. Because when they do, no matter what corps they marched, or when they marched, it always feels like home. The stories that we are constantly swapping of the hardships we endured seem never ending, but always way funnier now than when they were actually going on. I always loved the fact that we refer to the summer as the last two digits of the year and know which corps did what shows. In general I am crazy about all of it. I remember going to a doctor my ageout year, three weeks before DCI Finals, in an indescribable amount of pain. I sat down on his examining table and he asked me what the problem was. I told him that I had crushed the bones in my fifth metatarsal four months prior to the visit (during the prior winter guard season) and I just needed some pain medication to last me three weeks so I could finish the season. He asked me in an angered tone why I just didn't have the surgery that was needed to repair my broken foot at the time of the injury. I told him there was no way I was going to miss my ageout year and with the surgery needed, I would have been on crutches for at least two months into my ageout summer. He then threw his hands up in the air and told me to give it up and go home, that it wasn't worth it. After seeing that I wasn't about to do that, he looked at my chart, grinned, and prescribed me Naproxen. I am allergic to Naproxen. I pulled a Nike and "just did it!" I popped Ibuprofen for the swelling, but the pain was just that -- pain. During the guard season, I had to get on and off the competition floor on crutches, but would still perform the show. I'm a fighter and I love guard! I look back on it now and I never think of the pain that I endured that summer. I think of the most amazing summer of my life, one that I went into KNOWING how great it was going to be, because I made the conscious effort to go in and make it the best summer I could. And then I sit here at my middle school, behind my desk, and know that I can apply that to my everyday life. I can wake up every morning and I can approach my life with that attitude. I remember an extremely famous drum corps personality telling my drum corps that drum corps wasn't "real life" and I remember whole heartedly disagreeing with them. To me it IS real life. It is what I teach, it is what I have learned, and it is what I continue to learn from every single day. So as I sit here, writing my mission statement, (thank you Jerry Maguire), I think about all of you out there continuing to participate, support, or teach, and I wanted to tell you how much I appreciate you for making this activity what it is. Without you, my heart would be empty, my soul would be lost, and this awesome little community of people that I refer to as my family would never exist.
Michael Boo has been involved with drum and bugle corps since 1975, when he marched his first of three seasons with the Cavaliers.

He has a bachelor's degree in music education and a master's degree in music theory and composition.
He has written about the drum corps activity for over a quarter century for publications such as Drum Corps World, and presently is involved in a variety of projects for Drum Corps International, including souvenir program books, CD liner notes, DCI Update and Web articles, and other endeavors. Michael currently writes music for a variety of idioms, is a church handbell and vocal choir director, an assistant director of a community band, and a licensed Realtor in the state of Indiana. His other writing projects are for numerous publications, and he has published an honors-winning book on the history of figure skating. His hobbies include TaeKwonDo and hiking the Indiana Dunes. But more than anything, Michael is proud to love drum corps and to be a part of the activity in some small way, chronicling various facets of each season for the enjoyment of others.