Dave Gibbs, director of the Blue Devils, wrote this note about the Blue Devils European trip on his blog (a link to his blog appears below): I have been getting a lot of emails asking if I am concerned about how we are going to stack up competitively when we get home and WHY Europe this year. Here is part of an email I wrote to a longtime supporter. I really do not view the European tour from a competitive standpoint.
It is for sure an aspect that we have to consider when taking a trip like this. So let me explain. To give you some background: The Blue Devils mission is to permanently enrich the lives of young people through a commitment to youth development and performance excellence while providing enjoyment for our local community and audiences worldwide. We believe this trip really supports our mission. The organization this year had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel to Europe. The young people are having a tremendous experience traveling to new countries and learning about new cultures. It truly is changing their lives and maturing them as human beings. The shows have been awesome. So much support and, most importantly, we are impacting the youth of Europe and all the people that are committed to the performing arts with our performances. For most, this will be the first and last time to see the Blue Devils live. We believe the activity is just starting to really grow in Europe, and we hope that our trip is helping the development process. We would like the activity to truly to become a worldwide phenomenon. It is great to share our passion for performing with the world. Now we always weigh our decisions carefully and understand that we have many responsibilities to DCI, fans and members. We continue to try to balance all our goals and commitments. We also enjoy the competitive aspect. And remember we are competing at the World Music Contest in Kerkrade and are very serious about doing well in this WORLD championships with 30 other countries represented and 300 groups in competition. Do we miss seeing our friends in other corps and having healthy positive competition? Yes, for sure. Do I think it will hurt us competitively. NO. I think our organization is mature enough to be able to look at our product and continue to enhance the production while growing the performance excellence of our members. Our staff in my humble opinion is the best in the world. They are consummate professionals that have hundreds of years experienced combined. The Blue Devils have always been self-motivating. We want to always continue to improve on the standard we have previously set, either in 1976, the previous year, or the last run-through. If we do all the right things, continue to be positive, work hard, dedicate ourselves to each other and the organization, stay focused on our objectives and let our talents shine, all will work out in the end. No worries. A couple of quotes I like. This is from the end of an article about a baseball player who killed himself because of a missed play in the World Series. "If you work hard enough, sacrifice enough, then you will win. That's what many coaches teach. Or should we say preach? It might be more honest and healthier to say that if you work very hard you will become excellent and, because of that excellence, you may do great deeds and win great prizes. Unless, of course, you don't. Because, sometimes, the other player is better or luckier. In which case, you simply have to be satisfied with your excellence and the dignity of your effort." Or a quote from Theodore Roosevelt: "Credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat; who strives valiantly; who errs and may fail again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who does know the great enthusiasm, the great devotion; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat." So, we will have 3 1/2 weeks touring and then championship week. You have to remember, we on the West Coast are used to not having a lot of interaction with other corps until the second half. I have to tell you, I have traveled to Russia, China, Europe four times, and Japan five times with young people. There is nothing like it. It brings all together in an unbreakable bond that lasts the summer and a lifetime. You share experiences together and are truly an isolated family for three weeks. You come together and depend on each other. It is very good for the soul. It has been great. I think it is time for Drum Corps International to take the lead, and let's make this activity connect over the world. We are going the right direction. The Blue Devils will be very anxious and prepared when we have our first show in Kalamazoo.