Members of the 2004 class of the DCI Hall of Fame were announced back in April, were recognized during World Championships and will be formally inducted at a ceremony this coming January. We'll be profiling each new Hall of Fame inductee over the next few days.
Donnie VanDoren began his drum corps teaching career with the Black Diamond Regiment. In 1979 he instructed the Crossmen brass line. In 1980 he became brass caption head for the Garfield Cadets, remaining in that role until 1984 and overseeing that corps as it began its 1980s run at a string of World Championships. In 1985, VanDoren served as brass caption head for the Troopers, following with a stint in the same position at the Star of Indiana, who won the DCI World Championships in 1991. As that corps evolved into the Broadway musical "Blast!" VanDoren assumed that show's associate producer responsibilities. While only serving a short time with the Troopers, one of VanDoren's fondest memories of drum corps comes from his time with that organization. That year, he led a very young, small horn line of 53 with an average age of 16 years to DCI finals. "I remember warming up the brass ensemble prior to finals in Madison. The youngest ones were so nervous, some during the warmup finding it difficult to even hold down dinner," said VanDoren. "I remember walking with them into the stadium for the finals performance. I looked into their eyes, most with that "deer in headlights" look in them, and I remember thinking that this could get ugly. They came together, however, and from the very first note exceeded not only my expectations but more importantly exceeded their own." Attention placed on the individual member is the way that VanDoren strove to leave his mark on his horn lines. He had great success with his "teaching the future teacher" mentality. "The legacy I hope to leave on the drum corps activity is my belief and emphasis on 'teaching the future teacher' so that all the values which I believe are central to the activity, such as a strong work ethic, personal achievement, commitment to excellence, and working together to achieve a common goal will continue to be passed on to future generations," said VanDoren. "It is with great joy that I have watched many of my former students become educators themselves and have understood the importance of giving back to the activity that has made a difference in all of us. I am hopeful that my students will encourage their students to encourage their students to make a difference leaving a generation to generation effect." VanDoren's drum corps legacy lives on into another generation. His son completed his fourth year of drum corps in 2004, his first in Division I as a member of Carolina Crown, ironically taught by several of Van Doren's former students. Outside of drum corps, VanDoren says he cherishes the time he has to spend with his wife and two children. Relocating to Bloomington, Ind., more than six years ago, he draws similarities to drum corps and the college basketball craze in Indiana. "A strong interest of mine which goes along with living in Bloomington is college basketball. To me, the intensity, desire, individual work ethic and commitment to the team required in this sport is very similar to that of drum corps," he said. "I have had the good fortune to have had my hobby (drum corps) become the basis for what has evolved into a wonderful career where I have been able to be part of a team that creates and develops innovative theatrical products like 'Blast!' and 'Cyberjam.' However, the most wonderful part of my career is that I get to do what I love with the people that I love." Visit Donnie VanDoren's page in the DCI Hall of Fame