By Chris Weber While some may see a move from Division II to Division I status as a huge undertaking in the drum corps world, Esperanza is taking it in stride preparing themselves for another productive summer. "I am very excited about giving San Diego, the members and the audiences a chance to view Esperanza as a Division I corps this summer," said Esperanza Director Alan Cox. "We have always attempted to run the corps as a world class unit, not bounded by a Division II or Division I label. Our philosophies today are the same as they were as a Division II corps."
Esperanza's members hold the same ideals. "We've always been our own fiercest competitors. We strive to grow and become better than the year before. That drive and determination that Esperanza has will never change," said drum major Mike Wojcik. The corps will undertake a limited regional tour this summer (Esperanza director Alan Cox said the tour will last just more than three weeks), under a DCI touring model initiated by Pacific Crest in 2003, and compete as a Division I corps at World Championships in Denver. Pacific Crest will also be a regional Division I corps this summer. Since its inaugural season, Esperanza has had steady growth from 60 members in 2000 to 115 in 2004. This year the corps will field approximately 55 brass, 28 percussion, 30 guard, a field conductor and drum major. Much of this growth has been a result of successful off-season programs including the San Diego Brass Band, Esperanza de Luz winter guard and a new winter percussion program. "Each program in the Esperanza organization has a symbiotic relationship with the others. One program does not require the other but I don't know how we would have gotten here without each program helping each other," said Cox. Cox also has worked with the organization to institute community outreach programs in the San Diego area by talking to various community associations to raise awareness about the corps. This, in addition to a new fund-raising venture at Petco Park, the new home of the San Diego Padres, have all provided the necessary means to make a successful jump into Division I action. "It has been our goal since the first year to eventually transition into Division I. With that in mind, each year we approached the rehearsal schedule and operations with that goal in sight," said Cox. Members of Esperanza are extremely excited for the summer months marking the start of the 2004 season. "The members have been great this year. They are flying through the music and already starting to clean up some of their drill. The whole corps has a great attitude," said Wojcik. Cox stresses, however, that despite Esperanza's move into Division I, staff, management and members are not making any drastic changes from their already established hard work ethic and success in the past. "The things I look forward to are no different this summer than any other summer. Working with the members, the parents and getting to see old friends is always what drum corps is about. I can't think of anything different about this 2004 season that would change those things."
Drum major Mike Wojcik conducts Esperanza over the Memorial Day weekend.