History was made at the 2014 Drum Corps International World Championship Finals on Saturday, as the Blue Devils scored a record-breaking 99.650, shattering the previous high score (99.150, 2002 Cavaliers and 2005 Cadets) by half of a point. For executive director David Gibbs, this year's win is a testament to the tireless effort put in by both members and staff. "The most important thing, is that these kids set out to perform and be the best Blue Devils they can be," said Gibbs. "They work hard all the time, everyday, all day long. They were persistent, and they never gave up." In addition to their record breaking high score and newly claimed World Championship title, the corps from Concord also earned caption awards in visual performance, general effect, brass and color guard. This is the corps' 16th title since 1976, also a record for the World Class corps. "It's all about continuing the legacy," said drum major Kristen Lichtenthal when asked what comes next for the newly crowned World Champion. "It's what we've done for years and what we hope to do in the future. We have to take another step up from here." After finishing third in Friday night's Semifinals competition, the Bluecoats made a last minute surge that gave them the edge to finish in second place over the Cadets with a score of 97.175. That marks the highest placement and highest score the Bluecoats have ever received. "Sometimes you don't get the best run on Finals night. Sometimes you get it on Semis, or on Prelims, or sometimes even none of those," said drum major Willie Veenstra. "But for your last performance to be your best performance, just as you're on your way out the door, you can't ask for anything better than that."
Blue Devils are presented the DCI Founders Trophy at the 2014 World Championship Finals.
The corps' production, "Tilt," is one that executive director David Glasgow says is at the top of the Bluecoats' greatest. "From the very first time that we started to see this show come to life we thought that it had a lot of potential," Glasgow said. "When we really saw it start to come to life toward the end of spring training and during the first couple shows of the summer, we had an idea that this was definitely going to be the best thing we've ever done." The Cadets fell in the standings overnight from second to third (96.875), but are not discouraged. According to corps administrator Bruno Zuccala, the staff is still incredibly impressed with what the corps members have accomplished this season. "This is my 47th year doing drum corps and I have to say this, by far, had to be the most spectacular performance I've ever seen any of my students perform. We're all very, very proud," Zuccala said.
Although Santa Clara Vanguard finished fourth overall (96.075), the California corps took home the Fred Sanford high percussion award with a score of 19.75 in the caption. "To win a Fred Sanford award with [caption head] Paul Rennick is amazing. He's been at Vanguard for four years now, and to be part of his legacy is incredible," said front ensemble corps member AJ Covey. "You always hope that it gets better every night, and sometimes it does, but sometimes it doesn't. I'd say we've hit our stride." This is the 10th high percussion award that Santa Clara Vanguard has won, coincidentally with the most recent being in 2004 with the corps' first production of "Scheherazade."
Santa Clara Vanguard
After an "Out of This World" performance, Carolina Crown secured fifth place with a score of 95.675. Last year's World Class Champion may not have taken home a victory tonight, but horn sergeant Kevin Leboeuf believes the corps ended its season on a high note. "This is a drum corps that woke up every morning and faced the challenge of trying new things," said Leboeuf. "We had the responsibility to follow a championship-winning year and move the activity forward. It didn't really come together until tonight, but it was an incredible way to end the season," The Cavaliers ended their season in sixth with a score of 93.675, one placement higher than they finished in 2013. "Whether cruddy rehearsals or great performances like this, it's always the memories that will stick out the most," said assistant drum major Nick Hansberry. Performing for thousands of people feels wonderful, and I'm glad I get to do it with the guys."
In the Finals competition, Phantom Regiment (7th, 91.425) jumped ahead of the Blue Knights (8th, 91.150), a swap that Regiment music coordinator Jeremy Earnhart says is the result of a last minute push from the corps. "Like most groups for most seasons, you walk before you can run. We walked a little longer, and these few weeks have been a sprint to the finish line," said Earnhart. "The energy level was off the charts fantastic tonight, and I really feel like the members maxed out the program." According to Blue Knights color guard member Sarah Anderson, the 2014 season was everything she had hoped. "This season and our show has taught me to live in every single moment, especially here this summer." said Anderson. "I know I've got to do my best in everything, even outside of drum corps. Never sell yourself short."
Blue Stars finished ninth with a score of 89.600, jumping three placements from last year's 12th-place finish. Drum major Jacob Carpenter looks forward to watching the corps build on this momentum. "You can't ask for much more than a high energy performance where everyone's trying to get it right for the final time. When everyone's putting in 100 percent, it really is a special feeling," Carpenter said. Boston Crusaders earned 10th place with a score of 88.950 after delivering one last provocative performance of their 2014 production, "Animal Farm." "There was a synergistic quality of both the heart and brain, making everything fire on all cylinders. It was the culmination. This is where they peaked for the season," said corps director Andy Waldukat.
The Madison Scouts took home 11th place with a score of 87.575 after delivering their last performance of "Time Trip" for the crowd in Lucas Oil Stadium. According to director Chris Komnick, the corps' biggest takeaway this season has been learning to never let down all the way to the Finals, even with hardships along the way. "We put something amazingly challenging in front of them," said Komnick. "For us it was a way of pushing demand in a new level among the corps, and they responded very effectively for it." Crossmen (12th, 86.225) members relished their opportunity to perform as a finalist corps for the first time since 2012. "Back in 2012 we had a fairly young drum corps that somehow pushed into Finals, and this year we did it again," said fourth-year snare drummer Brandon Fish "There were tears going down our faces because we knew this was our best run of the season. It was an incredible moment of brotherhood and unity."