Drum Corps International
Glassmen supporter isn't just always ready, he's rockin'

Glassmen supporter isn't just always ready, he's rockin'

by David Rhodenbaugh

Here's some drum corps trivia for you, and no cheating: What are the corps colors of the Glassmen? If you answered "black, gold, and cream," you're only half right. The Glassmen have also adopted the red, white, and blue of the United Kingdom's Union Jack. You'll see it flying on the front sideline before almost every Glassmen performance, proudly waved by one Vivian Whittaker. He's there to work up the crowd and make sure that, for the next 12 minutes, the stadium belongs to the Glassmen.

Vivian Whittaker gets the audience in San Antonio fired up for the Glassmen.
You can hear his trademark yell of "Yoh-oh!" from the top of the stands, and when the drum major is asked if the corps is ready, Whittaker leads a response of "They're always ready! They're rockin!" After the performance you might see him manning the Glassmen's souvenir booth, something he travels from England to do each summer. But how did someone from across the pond wind up supporting the corps from the Glass City? Whittaker is involved with drum corps in Europe, first catching the drum corps bug as a supporter of a group in Bedfordshire. Whittaker said, proudly, "We were called the Bedford and Kempson Buccaneers. We used to go pillage and take all the trophies! Now, we've got a junior corps, they're called Distant Thunder. My daughter, she's the brass caption head." Drum corps is a family activity for Whittaker, and he said, "All my kids are involved in drum corps -- all my three daughters. One is a drum major, but prior to that she was the only girl in the drum corps in Europe playing the tenors, or quads. My younger daughter, she's 26, and she's still marching. She plays the mellophone."
Whittaker explained about jumping into the American drum corps scene: "We have a spring camp with all the drum corps in Europe, and normally we invite Drum Corps International instructors. This particular year, I think it was 1997, Mr. Brian Hickman of the Glassmen was giving some instruction to a British drum corps and he was short a baritone player. He took one of my baritone players from my corps, and I said to myself, 'who are these Glass-people?' So I followed the young person around the states and I was impressed with their organization." The Glassmen soon became a big part of Whittaker's life. He said, "The next year, my daughter wanted to do the same thing. She came [to the Glassmen] a child, she was 15. She went home an adult. It's a growing process, and it makes you grow up. I was impressed. Since then, I've been giving three months of my time as a volunteer. I'm impressed with these young people and what they do." Whittaker certainly is devoted to the Glassmen. Making the trip across the Atlantic and giving three months of his time, the Glassmen have adopted him as one of their own. They recognized Whittaker with one of their volunteer of the year awards in 2006 and an award for outstanding service in 2007. As for Whittaker, he's proud to give his time to his extended family wearing the Glassmen colors. "I just love drum corps. It's a good activity, and over the years I've been with the Glassmen, I'd say 99.9 percent of the time these kids go on to do better things. This is a learning curve, it keeps them off the street and going the right way."