The Corps with the Golden Show, part 1 The Corps with the Golden Show, part 2 The Corps with the Golden Show, part 3 The Corps with the Golden Show, part 4 The Corps with the Golden Show, part 5
The Cavaliers headed into Denver for World Championships facing an intense week of rehearsals, as most corps do. Scott Koter:We didn't really change much (in the show from Murfreesboro to Indianapolis to Denver). Everybody split up a lot. It was all about cleaning. It was just splitting up and getting things done. Andrew Toth: No alterations were made to the show or rehearsals going into finals week. We kept the rehearsals short, focused, and fun for the color guard, doing performances for each other and rehearsing sections of the show that required more stamina. Pepe Ochoa: Nothing new was emphasized in those rehearsals. We work just as hard on the first day (as we do on) the last. Consistency is always very important to us. We were all about business. We were on a mission to have unbelievable performances. We had worked so hard all summer that we were going to let the world continue to see what the Cavaliers were all about.

The Cavaliers at finale on Saturday of World Championships week. Photo by Katie Ford.
Scott Koter: Going into Thursday, Friday and Saturday (in Denver) it was the same format every day, although the storms rolled in every day. It was warm up separately, visual rehearsal, drums on their own field, guard on their own field, brass would warm up together right before lunch, then we'd come together after and do ensemble and we'd do what we called "big chunks," and just gloss things over to get continuity and talk about the story line. Huei-Yuan Pan: Jeff teaches us not to do anything on the performance field that we haven't done in practice. We give 100 percent in rehearsal and we give 100 percent in performance, no more, no less. All we do is tweak a few things here and there. Large chunks are rehearsed for continuity sake, and the whole time we perform our brains out. Kyle Adelmann: The biggest thing going into finals week was to not let the mistakes happen that happened at Indy, which was the last time we were on a NFL field. Our marching staff painted an exact replica of the hashes and inserts and numbers of the NFL field, INVESCO Field at Mile High. So there wouldn't be any question this time. Having two full days on that field helped us out a lot. (We got a) big laugh when we realized that they aren't that much different from NCAA markings and we adjusted just fine. Jeff Fiedler: (In Denver we emphasized) Professional field markings. Huei-Yuan Pan: (The overall atmosphere in Denver was) happy. About mid-July, tensions can rise just because you get tired of eating, sleeping, practicing, next to the same 134 guys day-in and day-out. You know every detail about the guy next to you, from the way he cuts his chicken to where he got that nasty stain on that stupid T-shirt he wears everyday. But in Colorado, the reality that life as we have known it for the last 80-some days is about to end. Nostalgia kicks in. In addition, friends and family frequent the housing sight. Practice/performance energy is at its peak. Everyone's living each day on tour like it's their last because for some, it is. Jeff Fiedler: It was business on the practice field, lots of yucks and brotherhood off the field. I and E was a great day, as the entire corps goes, and they supported each other in the performance rooms. Everywhere we went there were Cavaliers participating and doing well at I & E, and a crowd of their fellow members cheering them on. Andrew Toth: When I think of finals week for the 2004 Cavaliers, I remember the incredible amount of support that they had for each other during the individual and ensemble competitions. I think knowing that they were their own number one fans created a unity among them that produced an unmatchable confidence. Jeff Fiedler: Of course, the traditional "Boo Party" on Wednesday evening is always an emotional high point of the year. Michael Boo: The Boo party was NOT named after me. The Boo Party was the idea of (Monk) "Boo" Warwzyniak, who was the corps' quartermaster (handled all the equipment and uniforms) for several of the corps' early years. He hit the kids up for loose change as they brought their uniforms back to the truck after a parade or show, telling them he would use it to throw a big party at the big show at the end of the season (usually VFW or American Legion Nationals -- this was way before DCI). The kids referred to the bucket as the Boo Bucket and the party as the Boo Party. I contributed to the Boo Bucket each of my three years in the corps. Cavaliers Alumni and Booster Association now sponsors the Boo Party from their souvenir sales.
Huei-Yuan Pan: Boo party night, when we receive our gears, the entire night was somewhat surreal in the sense that this was the culmination of not just an entire summer together, but the blood, sweat and tears of three of my summers. The lessons and experience from the last two summers gave me a new perspective on my last summer on tour. I'm extremely thankful and humbled to have been a part of this organization and experience. The best times of my life. The '04 summer, being my age-out, gave me a unique perspective that I hadn't experienced in past summers. Without having to worry about surviving the day-to-day grind or getting as homesick, I was able to appreciate the finer things of tour; simply enjoying the company of my fellow Cavaliers, the buzz from performing, and enjoying life in general. Only in this activity can we escape from the real world for three months and live in our little bubble that we create and take across country. Scott Koter: I hadn't seen the corps since Saturday (in Indianapolis), so when I got out there Thursday, I was very pleased with what I saw. There's always a tradition at the Cavaliers -- the communication is strong. David Bertman, the brass caption head who runs the ensemble rehearsals, he's just wonderful at managing their heads. And putting it in the right places is Bruno (Zuccala, guard caption head). It's not really until the last week or two when everybody's in, and you get in kind of a zone. They're very smart kids, all the kids in this activity are smart. I think there was just a pretty high degree of trust. The thing that was neat was, compared to some other years, the kids were able to latch on to this identity and communicate it each night. They knew the character, what it meant and what the rule was. It was just business as usual (in Denver). Huei-Yuan Pan: On semifinals day morning warm-up, I remember finishing and being frustrated with our tech, Alan. By that point in the season, your ears are ridiculously attuned to every note that is played within the ensemble. Every tick sounds like an atomic bomb. At any rate, Alan, who has ridiculous ears himself, wasn't calling out ticks that he would have normally taken someone's left thumb over. Granted it was the first warm-up of the morning, but that's never been an excuse for us. After conferring with my buddy, Garrett, we talked to Alan and he said something that I will never forget. "It's not about me or what I say anymore. It's about you guys now. What do you want the 2004 pit to sound like?" What he said was an eye-opener, but completely true. Scott Koter: The performance Thursday night was really good. They put those things together -- where they communicated and they performed well. When I saw it Thursday I knew it was going to be there. I knew the rest of them felt that way too. Huei-Yuan Pan: Well, (on Thursday we wanted) to do what we'd been doing all summer -- give our best performance of the season. It was really that simple. There was no "magic finals-week potion" we were going to drink. Instead, do what we do best; concentrate on our own game. On Thursday, Aug. 5, the Cavaliers won Division I quarterfinals in Denver with a score of 97.750, beating the Blue Devils (97.225) for the first time all summer. Scott Koter: The color of the guard uniform that Michael Cesario designed, it was almost if he knew the shade of green on that field. For whatever reason, the corps on the field, and the lighting in that stadium, was spectacular. That's what I thought from where I was sitting. It's funny, when I went down after the show, everyone said the same thing. That was something that struck me. The ending was pretty difficult because from a tempo standpoint, that last minute and a half, the thing that we didn't put on for about three weeks, even in Indianapolis we still had bumps and bruises. So that was much better and much more controlled. "Cuba," the last tune, was just different to lock in because of the tempo and the listening environment and the inherent feel of the Latin groove. By Denver, it was finally comfortable, where you didn't have to hold your breath. Kyle Adelmann: Thursday's performance to us was to set the bar for how the rest of the weekend was going to be, for us and for the rest of the activity. I think we did exactly that. Thursday night was the biggest quarterfinals crowd ever, and they were very supportive of us, it was just a taste of what the crowd was going to be for Saturday night. Huei-Yuan Pan: My mom came to see me (on Thursday). This was the first finals performance my mom had been to in four years, and that meant a great deal to me. She is without a doubt in my mind the most supportive fan in DCI in heart, body and soul. It made me happy that she got to see what I had worked for all summer. She loves us with the ferocity only a mother could. Everyone that's seen a DCI show knows there's nothing like seeing the show live. Jeff Fiedler: (Our mindset was) Big stadium, big crowd, let's go! I thought the Thursday performance was perhaps our most dramatic of the week! You could have heard a pin drop during some segments as people in the stands were incredibly engaged with the performance. Kyle Adelmann: The scores from Thursday night were just a lot of fun to hear. We knew we had to perform at the level we did that night and even better the rest of the weekend. Scott Koter: I was elated (when scores were announced Thursday). This will sound trite, but you just want your show to be exactly as you designed it. We're pleased that it all came together. Oftentimes when that happens things take care of themselves. Huei-Yuan Pan: We kind of just heard (the Thursday scores) in passing. It seemed like were more occupied with getting things done, like taking the corps picture with Jolesch and loading the truck. Not exactly glamorous, but the fact of tour is you do what needs to be done. Scott Koter: We knew had more work to do that week, but we felt comfortable enough that we could hang in there. We had our run-throughs interrupted on Friday and Saturday (by storms), and Thursday too, because of the storm coming over the mountains. The end of "Hovercraft," where the color guard was kind of on the hash mark and did a ripple toss, a flag ripple thing, they rehearsed that 25, 30 times a day. Huei-Yuan Pan: I think (on Friday) it may have drizzled at one point. The Crossmen were rehearsing down the road, so a couple of us took our breakfast and walked down to watch them rehearse for a little while. It's hard to remember what it's like to be a DCI fan when you don't get to stand back and watch another group. That was one of the really great things about the California tour (I digress, but I could talk about that for quite a bit). Anyway, we did the usual rehearsal routine, big chunks, big picture, etc. Took our time getting showered up and ready for the show. Then went out and lit he field on fire with our show. On Friday, Aug. 6, the Cavaliers scored 98.525 to win semifinals. Any normal year would have meant that Saturday was the last time the corps would be together, but the Tour of Champions was set to begin the following week. Kyle Adelmann: Preparing for finals night is great, everyone is very nervous but extremely excited to get on that field and show what you have worked so hard for all summer, the best performance yet. But again it wasn't all that hyped up, because we still had to do the Tour of Champions. A weird finals week. Saturday is the absolute worst and the best night of the summer. Worst, you'll never perform with that exact group of guys ever again, that show will never be done ever again, you have to leave your best friends. Best, going home, start making money again, showing everybody (and I mean EVERYBODY) the DVD of your show (sorry to all my relatives who I make sit and watch that DVD every time they are over). But this
Saturday was different, because we had the Tour of Champions to deal with, so we didn't have to say our goodbyes and it wasn't a sad night at all. Very weird finals this year. Huei-Yuan Pan: Well, this finals day was unique from any other because we all knew we had another week together, so the usual flood of goodbyes wasn't an issue. For this, I'm glad that we got a chance to say our goodbyes over the course of a week, rather than one or two days. With that in mind, it was a surprisingly normal day for us. When we practice consistency and not changing all summer, by the number X performance, that's exactly what we do. Jeff Fiedler: (Saturday) was interesting, because we knew we would still be together for another week, so it wasn't like it was our last day together as a drum corps -- we knew that. Underlying, everyone knew it was finals and we knew we had the best odds to win, but it doesn't really change how we do things. We have to be more aware and listen closer and be more on our game because of all the noise and variables and cameras and flashes, etc., that can take you out of focus. Pepe Ochoa: I remember talking with the guard before the final performance. I reminded them of what we each gave up to be here with each other. We all were going to have an unbelievable performance. I remember looking into each of their eyes and remembered all those great times we had had. We then all came in close and started breathing until we were all then breathing as one. Scott Koter: We had to keep them relaxed, keep them focused, keeping consistent in the way we approach things. It was business as usual. Once you're in the zone, you don't want to change things. The only difference was Saturday night we changed sides (of the stadium). I'm not a Cavalier alum, so I don't go inside the circle there when they huddle up to do "Rainbow" ("Somewhere Over the Rainbow"), so I really don't know what Jeff (Fiedler) says in there, to be honest with you. Not that he's saying anything secretive. Jeff Fiedler: We sang, did the "Splooie," reminded them about their focus and told them to have fun performing, ducked under the TV cameras and went on the field. We were very happy that the dew point had not been reached tonight as we went on (Friday the field was wet when we performed) and it was comforting to know we're on a dry field. Huei-Yuan Pan: The atmosphere (on Saturday) was extremely subdued, what my friend John Potter would refer to as "the calm before the storm." We took a great deal of care in setting up each piece of equipment exactly where we wanted, cleaned and prepped everything for photo-finish quality, and took one last look at the beautiful Colorado scenery. Wow, what a great rehearsal week. That night, we did our usual pre-show pit huddle at the gate. We just looked at each other, and didn't really have to say our usual hype phrases like "sell it" or "we're so money, baby." Instead, we thanked each other for all the laughs and memories, and the friendships forged in a summer that would last a lifetime. The Cavaliers scored 98.700 in finals competition that Saturday, winning the 2004 DCI Division I World Championship. Pepe Ochoa: We all had such a great show that when the score was announced it really didn't matter. Our goal was to have the best performance we could and without a doubt we all had no regrets. Jeff Fiedler: I was happy for all the members, especially those who had been new members in 2003, as well as the new guys, the staff and volunteers who had worked so hard, for the alumni who were in Denver and at home waiting by the phone or the Internet, for Don Warren (Cavaliers' founder) and Adolph De Grauwe (former Cavaliers' director) and all the behind-the-scenes personnel. I contained a smile, as I figured some people were trying to read what had happened by watching me, I kind of knew a few minutes before it was announced. I thought, "It will be quite the celebration in the parking lot, since none of the members are going home and there are an awful lot of fans, alumni and family here ..." Kyle Adelmann: Hearing that you have just won DCI is a feeling that I won't ever forget and I have had the honor of hearing it more than once. When it comes to scores we are very indifferent. We enjoy winning but it isn't everything, and that is exactly what is making me come back to the Cavaliers for my fifth and final summer. Huei-Yuan Pan: Finals night, everyone came off the field laughing with tears in our eyes. Jeff tells us every summer that chances are our best run-through will be on some practice field during finals week. If we perform at really high level in rehearsal, even if we fall short in performance, it'll still be a great show. However, finals this year was amazing. It was one of those performances where everyone was just feeding off of each other and by the time we finished, we knew we had maxed our show. I couldn't have asked for anything more. Scott Koter: (I was) relieved. We were crying -- I've been with the corps seven years, and obviously been with them for some high scores, and four championships. (Except for the year) 2000 (when the Cavaliers tied for first place), this was the only other time I felt that emotional after a finals performance, when it was just unbelievable. When we came off the field, I know the Blue Devils and Santa Clara both had great shows. When we came off, everybody was just physically and emotionally drained. It's awesome. I also knew the Blue Devils were awesome, and I could see that they had a different ending, which was brilliant. It doesn't matter what you design and conceive, it's the guys in there on a daily basis, no matter what they teach or what they're responsible for on tour, that make it happen. There's lots of people that design shows. This year was a storybook example of what happens when a plan comes together. If I had to title our highlights film, it would be "I love it when a plan comes together." It was a great year for drum corps in general. It was one of the best years ever. There were some great programs, some great teaching. It was kind of a storybook year. The end Cast of Characters: Kyle Adelmann -- 2004 Cavaliers mellophone player
Jeff Fiedler -- director of the Cavaliers
Michael Gaines -- Cavaliers drill designer (submitted drill PDFs)
Scott Koter -- program coordinator of the Cavaliers
Rick Lunn -- Cavaliers' assistant tour manager (submitted James Bond PDF)
Pepe Ochoa -- 2004 Cavaliers guard sergeant
Huei-Yuan Pan -- 2004 Cavaliers front ensemble member
Andrew Toth -- Cavaliers color guard designer Previous Recap features: Eighty-three