It's go time. By the time you read this, I'll have already finished my short stint in Texas, and be on my way home to Wisconsin. Then it's just five short days before I make my last trip to Rockford College. I can't believe I'm aging out.
I can't believe that it's been five years since I first started on this whirlwind adventure. Five years since I first took the plunge and left for an entire summer. Five years since I got bit by the drum corps bug -- and never looked back. A lot has happened in these five years. I am definitely not the same person that left for tour way back in 2001. I don't know when, where, or how it happened, but somewhere along the way, I found the real me. I found my voice. I found the confidence to be the person that I want to be. I can't imagine what my life would be like without drum corps. I would not be the person that I am today without it. I find this all ironic, because it has absolutely nothing to do with playing a note or marching a spot. After all, I'm a grad student studying political science -- what do I need to know about brass playing? On the surface, drum corps has absolutely no connection to my studies. Why should I spend so much time and money on something that doesn't pertain to my future? But that's the beauty of drum corps. It's not just about playing loud, drumming clean, or catching a toss. There's so much more to it. It's the strive for excellence. It's the determination and discipline to keep going until the job is done. It's finding the strength that you never knew you had. It's learning the true meaning of teamwork, and knowing that a little hard work never did hurt anyone. Five years. I remember being a rookie, and seeing all of the four-, five-, and six-year vets. It's hard to believe that now, that's me. I'm the one with all of the patches on my member jacket. The one who knows all of the staff and support staff. The one with all of the crazy tour stories, and words of wisdom for those about to embark on their first voyage into the unknown. But, soon enough, it will all be over. This is my one last chance to make my mark in drum corps history. I don't get the luxury of "next year." All I have is right here, and right now. It's time to make the best of every moment. It's go time. This Sunday, I move into Rockford College to begin "brass boot camp." It's going to be hard. It's going to push me to my limits, and then some. I'm going to feel like a walking train wreck for the next three weeks. But then, it's off for one last hurrah across the country before I have to resign myself to the "real world" for good. I'll do my best to continue writing throughout the summer. Unfortunately, the death of our Palm Pilot is leaving Phantom Regiment without a tour diary for the first time in five years. So of course, I owe it to you, the fans, to continue to bring an inside view of life on the road, as it happens. It might not be every week, and it might not always come on Tuesday. But, rest assured, it will come. Please come and introduce yourselves to me this summer! It will be that fastest way to get the information that I'm sure you will be so desperately desiring. And just to save time, my name is pronounced "Lay-nuh." (That is, "lay" as if you were to lay down for a moment, and "nuh" as if you were to disagree and say "nuh-uh." I tried to spell my name phonetically for my college graduation, and it ended up being a huge disaster.) To everyone about to move-in this summer, I'll see you on the field. Good luck to all, and to all a safe and happy tour! Lanah Kopplin is a third-year euphonium player in the Phantom Regiment, and previously spent a year with the Pioneer. Lanah recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin (she's a Milwaukee native) with a political science degree, and will age out in 2005.