There’s a new aura around Gold. Perhaps that’s to be expected after coming off the best finish in the corps’ history in 2018.
The Oceanside, California corps finished with a bronze medal at last year’s DCI Open Class World Championship, three spots higher than their best previous finish and four places better than 2017.
Every corps enters a new season with the hope and expectation that it’ll take steps forward from its previous iterations. Gold isn’t necessarily unique in that respect. What’s different, though, is that the idea of improvement goes hand in hand with a wide-open shot at an Open Class title.
And with the news that both Blue Devils B and Vanguard Cadets, the 2018 Open Class respective victor and runner-up, won’t be making the trip this year to the Open Class Finals, Gold’s championship hopes grew a bit clearer.
“I think we’re on a road to great success,” third-year snare drummer Christian Newman said. “I think the way we push [each other] from member-to-member and from staff-to-member is consistent no matter our competition. Regardless of who we’re competing against, our biggest competitor is ourselves.”
After 2018’s third-place finish, Newman said, the corps understood what they needed to work on, keen on focusing on details and chasing perfection in a clearer way.
After its inception in 2005, Gold didn’t make the Open Class Finals until 2012. Since then, it’s finished in the Top 8 each of the last six years, topping out at 75.425 points during its third-place finish a year ago. A substantial jump, the SoCal corps had previously never scored more than 71.250 and made a year-to-year improvement of nearly five-and-a-half points.
So far this summer Gold has won each of its three competitions in its home state. From love, to money to your inner self, their production, “The Pursuit of Happiness,” explores the things that can make people happy.
“The work is definitely more challenging than last year,” third-year color guard member Drew Babcock said.
“Challenging” has the potential to carry more upside, and that’s just what Gold wants.
In a sense, the expectations have heightened for the Open Class corps. Its members have reflected that in the way they’ve approached the season.
Tenor drummer Chris Eastmead is in his first year at Gold. He didn’t go through the bronze medal-winning season a year ago, but he’s sure heard about it. His fellow corps members have mentioned the difference between the corps in 2018 and 2019. There seems to be a common thread.
“I see a lot of members really holding themselves to a standard this year,” Eastmead said. “And from what I’ve heard from other people, that really wasn’t the case at the beginning of the year last year.
“You kind of walk into this corps and people already know what they’re supposed to be doing and they already have their jobs assigned. They just hold these expectations of themselves and everyone gets their stuff done.”
Babcock sees the same thing.
“It’s definitely a lot more strict this year,” he said. “Everyone just has their place and their role. You just go get it done.”
Babcock admitted that 2018’s bronze medal was a bit unexpected. Everyone, he said, was just starting to realize their competitive potential. That third-place finish expedited the process of Gold finding their place.
“After last year I think we know what we needed to work on and ironed everything out making sure that everything is as close to perfect as we can get it,” Newman said. “I think [this year] is an amazing culmination of the past three years and how much this corps has grown. All the members are so dedicated, and I just feel a lot of love coming off the field. I’m really proud of the corps.”