Last week, I confessed that I only marched half of last summer. This week, I'll give you a glimpse into life on the sidelines.

Lanah Kopplin
Just to review, a severely sprained lateral collateral ligament in my right knee left me unable to handle the extreme physicality of our activity. After a week of outright stubbornness and a little bit of soul-searching, I finally relented and let the injury win. I guess "mind over matter" isn't always the case. I honestly went through all of the stages of grief. This was, after all, an enormous loss to me. I began with denial, by denying the fact that I was actually injured, and not just in pain. I became angry with myself, which translated into a short fuse and a hot temper. I bargained with myself: "Maybe if I don't march the opener, and just march the ballad, I can pull myself through this; maybe if I take a few more pills I can handle this set of drill; maybe if I ..." When all of that didn't work, I fell into a depression. I can remember countless nights of silently crying myself to sleep, so as not to disturb my roommate. It took me a very long time to reach the final stage of acceptance, and openly express the fact that I just couldn't do it any longer. Living on the sidelines can be summed up in one word: Frustrating. It's frustrating to see the entire corps out there, working hard and getting better, and know that you're not a part of it. It's frustrating to push through basics and tracking, knowing that in your case, it doesn't really matter -- when's the next time anyone will see you marching anyway? The staff would praise us on our work ethic, but really, did I work all that hard today? Was I included in this speech? The worst part of not being in the drill came during every single competition. Although I did not march the show, I would still dress out and participate in retreat. I can't even remember how many times I would have to explain to someone the reason that everyone else was on the field, and I wasn't. Then, I would have to listen to the scores being announced, knowing that I didn't contribute to our standings. What did I care about the brass score? I wasn't out there playing. But yet, I kept pushing. I did my best wherever possible. I did whatever I could to help make the corps the best that it could be. Once I became more mobile, I began running messages between the staff, and between staff and management. I became the corps "gopher," and retrieved whatever it was for whoever needed it. I refilled water jugs, and got sweatshirts for cold marching members. During the early part of the season, we used these huge red panels during our drum solo. Who was in charge of those? Me. I loaded, unloaded, cleaned, and transported them to wherever the corps needed them, during rehearsals and at shows. If the sky looked like it was about to downpour, I loaded the horn cases back on to the truck. If it cleared up before the corps was done rehearsing, I unloaded them so that the rest of the horn line wouldn't have to waste their time doing it. I helped air out wet uniforms so that they could dry off and not smell quite so bad. During visual rehearsal, I helped spray dots on the field, and during brass rehearsal, I helped run the metronome. In a way, it helped me to achieve a sense of accomplishment. I knew that somehow, in some small way, I was doing my part to help make the corps better. It certainly wasn't easy. It took a whole lot of patience on my behalf to stick out the rough times, so that one glorious day I could make my return to the field. This experience certainly helped me to grow as a person. While marching on the field, it's easy to narrow your vision to your immediate vicinity. From the sidelines, I could see the "big picture." Staff comments made more sense to me, because I could see where they were coming from. I've been able to do what many dream of, but few accomplish -- stand in front of the entire Phantom Regiment horn line, and let them blow my face off. Although I am moving on to my fifth year of drum corps, I have never been to a show in which I wasn't a participant. This experience gave me a little opportunity to see drum corps from a different perspective, and really become a true fan of the activity.
But most importantly, this experience has given me a "reality check." I know that I cannot take a single experience for granted, because in the end, this organization is much larger than myself. Phantom Regiment doesn't "need" me -- it did quite well before I was here, and it will continue to do well long after I'm gone. As much as I like to think that nobody could ever march my spot as well as I can, this past summer I was proven wrong. I'll admit it: It was a shot to the ego to see the corps continue to progress, while I was left behind. The world did not end for Phantom Regiment on the day that I pulled myself from the drill. But because of this experience, I appreciate my time with this corps so much more. I know that it truly is an honor to stand with this horn line, and wear this uniform. You can be sure that I will work harder than ever before, so that I can truly say that I was a part of the 2005 Phantom Regiment.
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.