Addison, IL -- Gibsonville, NC native Joe Rickman had only been to two shows in the past ten years and hadn't been to a Drum Corps International World Championships since he stood on the field at Birmingham, AL as a member of the 1980 27th Lancers. And then he got the call. "At first, I thought it was a telemarketing scam," said Rickman when he got home on Sunday August 4th and had a call on his answering machine from the Drum Corps International office. The message told him that he had won a trip to Madison for two. "I still didn't take it seriously until Monday when I got my e-mail and it told me again that I had won. At the time I didn't know that my wife had entered me into the contest on DCI.org. Even then I was still skeptical when I called the DCI office and was assured that it was on the level."After juggling some appointments around, Rickman and 15 year old son, David arrived in Madison on Thursday morning. "I knew I was in the right place when I met DCI Board member Steve Auditore in the hotel's elevator. He welcomed us to Madison and at that point it began to sink in that this was really happening."After lunch on Thursday, the Rickman's headed to Camp Randall Stadium for the Quarterfinals and 30th Anniversary Celebration. Having not been to show of this magnitude proved to be an eye opening experience the former 27th Lancer Soprano. " Wow, what a treat. We were both particularly taken by the awesome sound of America/O' Canada and God Bless America. That sound was absolutely something I can never forget." "Friday was a really special day. My son and I were sitting in the restaurant downstairs just about to finish breakfast and I looked up and in walked Patsy and George Bonfiglio, former director of the 27th Lancers. On my way out, I stopped by their table and while I hadn't seen them in more than 22 years, Patsy immediately called my by name before I had even had a chance to reintroduce myself. We had a wonderful visit that lasted between 15 minutes and a half hour as we reminisced about the '80 season and the corps trip to the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. This was an unscheduled treat and was very special.""Our goal for Friday was off to spend the day with the Blue Devils at Warner Park. We stayed in front of the horn line and the drum line. We spent the afternoon watching them go through their M&M rehearsal. That was a special treat as well. You can't go wrong when you're at a rehearsal like that. Not only was the performance at an incredible level, the interaction between the staff and the members was wonderful. When we marched, intimidation was often used to motivate us, that didn't appear to be the case here. I was truly impressed by the way the staff communicated changes and offered constructive criticism to the performers. Things are changing and these guys are learning how to better communicate or at least how to motivate. It was an awesome experience." Although he's not yet in marching band, 15 year old David has been playing drums for more than two years. According to his Dad, "he was so blown away by the experience, he is now determined to one day march with the Blue Devils." A few years ago this might have stung, as Rickman's Lancer's narrowly lost the 1980 title to the Blue Devils. "I had a little burr in my saddle, but after seeing the Blue Devils rehearsal and saw the benchmark for their performance and saw the leadership of that organization this would be a great experience for my son." Saturday included visits to watch the Santa Clara Vanguard and The Cadets rehearse before heading off to the Stadium for Finals. Finals were tremendously exciting. "The caliber of these kids and the way that they play has changed immensely. These kids are players. They have flat taken it to the next level. They've gone well beyond that. I was totally impressed." "There was nothing negative at all about this trip, it was just all such a positive thing and what a real blessing for us to be able to cap our summer off. We will not forget this ever, this was an incredible week. It will be forever etched in our minds and just a special treat for me and for my son to be able to come and enjoy that with me and to see the smile on his face when he's sitting 15 feet in front of the Blue Devil hornline or drumline, you know you can't describe that. Its a gift that that you can only get through drum corps." As for the future, "We've already begun making plans for Orlando 2003. I've called a couple of other guys including a friend that I marched with in 27th. He and his dad will be joining us for the entire week" said Rickman. "We may have drifted away from drum corps for more than a decade, but we're back in the loop and we're here to stay."
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