By Allison Owen So my spring break has come and gone. I miss it already. I'll give you a recap of the highlights to my time off from school. My break started off in Nashville. I flew to Chicago (Midway, if you really wanted to know) and was picked up by my sponsor, Matt. Friday night we watched some drum corps DVDs. I got my first look into the Phantom Regiment by watching their "On the Road 2004" DVD. Plug: If you're really into corps, it's a really cool inside look and I recommend it.

Allison Owen at 2004 World Championships.
Saturday, a window of drum corps opportunity was opened for me. I spent my weekend up at Phantom Regiment's drill camp. Before you start getting the wrong idea, I was NOT up there auditioning or anything of the sort. I was simply up there as a drum corps spectator -- but more on that later. After lunch, Phantom's director, Pat Seidling, took me down to their office in Rockford. Wow. We all know I love drum corps, so I found this very interesting. It was definitely the highlight of my time up north. I could have spent hours there just looking at all the old pictures and reading up on the corps history. For the short time I was there, though, I was introduced to the history of the Phantom Regiment. Some people may find that kind of stuff really boring, but I think it's really interesting to know how the corps got started and all that good stuff. A really cool thing for me as well was seeing some of my corps staff in the pictures on the walls. -- "back in their day." It was crazy to see how these people who instruct me during my summer of corps looked when they were members. Basically during that weekend I really got to see what the Phantom Regiment is all about and I really enjoyed my time there. Now don't get me wrong, I love Memphis Sound. I'm just saying that this time gave me an inside look at the Phantom Regiment and I had a blast. Really, don't take this the wrong way: I wasn't up there to march. Yeah, I ended up getting to do some cool stuff -- like being in a picture for their corps store, modeling their new hats -- but I wasn't up there for that. I was up there to see what Phantom Regiment is all about. I found out that our corps directors are friends and Pat was a consultant in the formation of Memphis Sound. See, we're all family in the drum corps world. We have to support each other, because if we don't, who will? On the subject of supporting each other, there's something I need to get out: I'm not one to support corps bashing. Sure, it's easy to say how awesome the top 12 in Division I are, but that doesn't mean Division II & III corps don't work hard too. I know it's easier to find things wrong with a smaller corps, but there's no need to talk smack.

I know what you're thinking, "But it's all in good fun." Yes, sometimes it is "all in good fun," but there's no need to pick apart every single thing in a corps show. I try to be a very patient and flexible person, but one thing I will not stand for is Division II & III bashing. We work just as hard -- if not even harder -- to prove ourselves, so I will not stand by and let you tell me that I'm "just in Memphis Sound." I try to not make assumptions about people -- at least until I get to know them -- but if you say that to me, I won't even try to get to know you. I have no respect for people who tell me that just because I'm not in "one of the big boys," I'm not good enough. I do not tolerate being told that I'm "just in Division II," so I "don't count as DCI." If you really want me to go off on you, tell me any of that and I will let you have it. If you don't believe me, contact me (through the DCI office) and I'll let you talk to some of the guys at school who have said it before -- jokingly - and then felt my wrath. I may not seem too scary and your first impression of me may be "What a sweet girl," but if you have the guts to tell me my corps isn't good enough, this whole other Allison will come out. You will regret it.    If you support me, I'll support you. Maybe there's a show out there that you think royally sucks, but at least support their efforts. Even if the guard doesn't catch a darn thing, the snare sticks are flying all over the place, the bass line sounds like shoes in a dryer, the contras can't even stand up straight, and the marimbas up front can't even be heard, give them a little for getting out there and trying. It takes a lot of guts to get out there and march corps, so I have the utmost respect for anyone who sincerely tries. Yeah, I know it's easy to find faults, isn't it? But if you want to criticize a corps, please do it while I'm not there -- especially if it's my corps. I will not idly sit by and listen to you tell me that all the blood, sweat, and tears that I put into my show were wasted because we didn't win. Please do me a favor and think before you speak. Stop for a second if you're about to say something bad about a corps. Think about how hard the kids in that corps have worked to create that show you're about to criticize. If you still don't care, then by all means be rude and bash them. But I've come to find that most corps people are pretty cool and think about the kids instead of themselves.

Yeah, I know we haven't been around for 50 years like Phantom Regiment, and we haven't won as many titles as the Blue Devils, but give us some time. We have a great staff and a great program going on. This weekend I saw what happens when a corps sticks around. I saw what great things can be accomplished if people believe in them. So do me a favor -- believe in us. Great things are happening in Memphis and it'd really be appreciated if we had some support. And when I say "us," I mean "every corps that is not top five in Division I. It can't hurt you to get to a show this summer a little earlier to see the smaller corps that go on first. It may not be the most convenient thing for you, but stop by a Division II & III competition. When finals week rolls around, come check out the other finals. We may not be as loud as Division I, but we'll give you a great show. Support us and we'll give it right back to you. Trust me on this one: It's really hard to perform to a crowd of 10 people in those stands. Believe me, it's hard to rock out to an empty stadium. Don't get me wrong, we still get out there and perform our hearts out, but it's certainly not easy when there's no one there to cheer you on. You have no idea what just a little bit of support will do. We may be "just Division II" to you right now, but if we have no one believing in us, that's all we'll ever be. A little "inconvenience" on the fan's part will go a long way for the performers. Cheer us on and we'll give you the best show of our lives. We may not be the powerhouse corps, but we'll give you all we've got. To be perfectly honest, had I not come to be involved in a Division II corps, I probably would not pay much attention to this world either. But now that I've experienced it firsthand, I want more people to see how awesome it is. I want my fellow Division II & III corps to get the recognition they deserve. It takes guts and dedication to get out there and be the first ones on at a show, before "the real corps" get there. Think about it. I'm pretty many of the top Division I corps didn't start out as the best. A corps doesn't just start out at the top. People have to believe in them. It takes time. I learned last weekend that the Phantom Regiment didn't start out as the amazing corps they are today. Every drum corps has a beginning. So when the summer rolls around, check out some Division II & III action. You won't be disappointed -- it WILL be worth your money, I promise! If you think it isn't, find me sometime and I'll give you my personal apology and find a way to repay you the cost of your ticket. That's seriously how much I want our "drum corps world" to be recognized. Now I'll be pretty sad if someone actually comes up to me this summer to say that our show wasn't worth his or her money. But hey, tell me why it wasn't worth it to you and I'll get you a refund if need be. I've had a lot of time to think this past week since I haven't had much to do -- and we all know I've always got corps on my mind -- so I came to some conclusions. I want everyone else to see how much the world of Division II & III has come to mean to me. Come support us this summer and you better believe you'll see me giving it right back to you. Allison Owen, 16, is a junior at Sullivan Central HS in Blountville, Tenn. She's in her second year in the Memphis Sound guard and enjoys dancing, writing, English, guard, photography, having fun and performing. For college she would love to attend the University of Oklahoma and major in journalism or English; however, she'll probably end up at the University of Memphis for in-state tuition's sake.