By Chris Hollenback
The Pacific Crest, a very strong junior corps that has competed in Division I on the West Coast the last few years, will compete in Division II at the DCI Championships in Orlando, Fla., this summer, after corps leadership explored the opportunities of marching as a Division I corps at World Championships. The corps will determine at a later date whether it will be competing in Division I or Division II in the future, while it continues to perform as a Division I corps in Pacific Division shows. If you were pleasantly surprised the first time you saw the Seattle Cascades or the revived Magic of Orlando, you're likely to have a similar reaction when you witness Pacific Crest for the first time. Pacific Crest petitioned the DCI Executive Committee to grant the corps Division I status for Championship week -- as of the January DCI board of directors' meeting, DCI rules now require budding corps to petition a review committee. However, since that committee won't exist until September, the corps went to the executive committee, which consists of corps directors from five major Division I corps, four at-large DCI board members and DCI executive director Dan Acheson.
The committee thought long and hard this past weekend about how to proceed, Acheson said. The board members realized they were setting precedent, and that any decision on the topic of participation level might have long- term implications. The executive committee respects Pacific Crest for its prudent, conservative approach to building a strong infrastructure on which the competitive corps thrives. But, while Pacific Crest has its financial ducks in such a straight row that even the old-school visual judges would give them high marks, the bottom line is the corps has no intention of doing a full DCI Division I tour. "We are excited about our first-ever appearance at DCI's most prestigious events. We've received so many wonderful words of encouragement from our fans, donors, and other drum corps directors, and it will be great fun to show new audiences the achievements of our magnificent students," said Stewart Pompel, the director of the Pacific Crest. To tour or not to tour While DCI would love nothing more than to add strong Division I corps, executive committee members want to be fair and respectful to established corps, like the Colts, the Madison Scouts, or the Spirit of Jacksonville state University which have come up with the human and financial resources to tour coast to coast each summer for years.
"The expense, effort and resources it takes to tour on that level is seen as a bit of a rite of passage for corps interested in becoming Division I members," Acheson says. He adds that a committee will be formed to determine whether extensive touring will continue to be a criteria for becoming a Division I corps in the future.
Winning Isn't the Only Thing Last year, when the Magic wanted to compete in the Top 12, all they had to do was win their way in. Now it's not so simple. Acheson said the only way for a corps to reach Division I status is to petition the participation review committee. The committee then makes a decision based on the corps' leadership, membership, management experience and financial capabilities. Post-show Arc More notes from the executive committee last weekend: * The executive committee also decided the Mandarins will be a full-fledged Division I corps because the Sacramento, Calif., unit will tour on that scale. Mandarins went through a similar petitioning process last year, and they were approved. * DCI is taking appropriate security measures for all events this summer. "DCI is concerned and aware, and we'll take appropriate precautions," Acheson said. The circuit is exploring crisis communications plans, additional security personnel and appropriate insurance to guard against
potential homeland security issues. * DCI will form a committee to explore implementation of the amplification rule. The committee will report findings at the September DCI board meeting. * The executive committee also discussed how to measure DCI's success, a discussion Acheson said would be ongoing. "We asked ourselves, 'DCI is successful when ...,'" he said. * DCI is taking a conservative financial approach, given the current economy, and will not be filling the open Marketing Director position until further notice. Chris Hollenback marched in the Madison Scouts drum line from 1991-97.