Drum Corps International
Interview with Tom Chopelas, director of Division II DCI champion East Coast Jazz

Interview with Tom Chopelas, director of Division II DCI champion East Coast Jazz

by Drum Corps International

Tom Chopelas, director of the Division II DCI champion East Coast Jazz of Malden, Mass., answered these interview questions in the wake of his corps' victory in Brockton, Mass., on Saturday. How do you feel about how the corps performed all week in Brockton? The corps performed consistently well all summer. The Thursday performance was little flat, but still very good. I was impressed all summer long at how professional the kids became and how they confronted each performance with confidence. Did any performances this summer stand out as being memorable? All were memorable for their consistency. Obviously, the Grand Championship was the "most." It was exciting, entertaining and well-performed. Another great show was in Manchester, N.H., the week before. Do you want to say anything to ECJ fans? All of us associated with the East Coast Jazz thank the drum corps fans who were so enthusiastic throughout the summer. Particularly encouraging to the members was the strong recognition of the corps at each show and the monstrous response at the end of each show. Was anything tricky and/or difficult this summer? We had some vehicle maintenance issues with our "chuck wagon." Unlike previous years when our show remained fairly constant all summer, this year we made several major changes as the season progressed, right up to the championship. The members responded well to the additional work and faced the challenge with enthusiasm. Describe the Division II competition this summer. Very strong. Our competition with the Spartans was very exciting. It created an atmosphere in which the members of both corps developed a keen sense of competition on the field but great camaraderie off. The performance level of all Division II drum corps has grown dramatically. Did anything surprise you? I was hopeful we would be at the top of Division II competition again this year, but we suffered several membership set backs in the spring. That we finished where we did was a surprise to me. What will you do differently (if anything) next year? I don't expect much to be different. What can people expect from ECJ next summer? Another entertaining and exciting show.

What did you personally learn this summer? Never underestimate the exceptional young people who participate in drum corps. Feel free to add anything else. This is my 35th year as director of a Malden drum corps. I am still impressed with the sacrifices, dedication, work ethic and the team effort of the members of the corps. Year after year these traits seem to get stronger. Perhaps it's the type of kid attracted to a strongly competitive organization. Just the same, it helps keep me on my toes as I try to keep up with them.

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