This past week on DCI.org, we've been examining the similarities and differences between drum corps and athletics.
Major league baseball scout Tim Kelly, a former professional pitcher who now works as a special assignment scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers, spent some formative years as a baritone player with the Santa Clara Vanguard. But despite an athletic career that vaulted him to the apogee of sporting success, Kelly looks back on his drum corps career as a defining life moment. "I have won NCAA National Championships and World Series rings in baseball, but nothing can ever compare to beating the Troopers for the first time," Kelly said.^ Kelly attributes his success between the foul lines to the lessons he learned between the yard lines. "I would have never experienced the success or longevity in such a highly competitive and performance-oriented world were it not for all the valuable lessons I learned as part of the Vanguard," Kelly said. "Without the life changing experiences and work ethic that I was given while a member of the Vanguard, I could not possibly have survived or succeeded in professional sports. The life lessons I learned were invaluable," Kelly said. "As I have said in more than a few interviews over the years, when reporters were making a big deal about being a professional baseball player or working in this industry, I would tell them that the best thing and by far the coolest thing I have ever done in my life was being in a drum corps, the Santa Clara Vanguard," Kelly said. Before drum corps, Kelly's life had a singular focus. "Until I joined the Santa Clara Vanguard just after its inception in 1967, all I wanted to do with my life was play baseball, and that is all I did. Gail Royer had been my band teacher beginning in 4th grade but baseball was my life," Kelly said. "After joining Santa Clara my priorities changed, however. We were all neighbors pretty much in Santa Clara and suddenly I was part of a team that was really a team. We all wanted to be good, to win, and we loved music, and marching and drums gave us all goosebumps. We had many future DCI Hall of Famers in Santa Clara -- Mike Moxley, Wayne Downey, Gail Royer, Fred Sanford, Pete Emmons, and a few others came through during our formative years," Kelly said. Kelly believes that comparing drum corps to sports is unnecessary. "Forget whether drum corps is a sport. Drum corps offers so much more than any sport and requires so much more, people should not be looking for validation of their activity by calling it a sport," Kelly said. Kelly elaborated, "The supreme attraction of drum corps for many people is that it may be the only activity that combines the physical demands equal to many sports, as well as the competitive aspect and the artistic. I have never found that combination anywhere else in any activity. It is the World Series, the Final Four or the Olympics, where you have to also play beautiful music." The combination of the competitive, musical and visual aspects of drum corps is what makes drum corps unique, Kelly said, noting that performing in a drum corps show requires a greater array of skills than playing most sports. "So many of us were considered band "geeks" in high school, but many of us refused that label because our artistic side absorbed us as much or more than our desire to compete on the athletic fields. Drum corps is an amazing combination of these things and that is what creates the magic. Drum corps people who find themselves at odds with the athletic community, especially in high school, need to hold their heads high and know that they are competing at something that requires a far greater range of talents and abilities, than it takes to walk on a field and perform an athletic event," Kelly said. The artistic qualities of drum corps, meanwhile, have a greater longevity in a person's lifetime than any athletic prowess. "As many have found before and after me, the artistic side is something that provides greater satisfaction in life, long after our physical gifts have deteriorated. It defines who and what we are far more than what we ever accomplish on the athletic fields of competition. Drum corps is the truest form of team effort that I ever experienced in my life," Kelly said. Tim Kelly pitched for four years in professional baseball, getting to AAA and going to major league spring training twice, until an arm injury ended his playing career. Since that time he has been a scout with the Anaheim Angels for 11 years. He has signed Tim Salmon and Troy Percival, has been the assistant scouting director for the Angels and Dodgers, and now is a special assignment scout with the Los Angeles Dodgers.