By Becky Novac Becky Novac, an alum of the Bluecoats' color guard, will be contributing a column to every Thursday. This is her first installment. I thought my first column should be about me, since I am not your typical columnist. Yes, I marched drum corps but that may be the only similarity between my columnist colleagues and I. I marched with the Bluecoats color guard in 2000, 2002 and 2004. Or as I liked to say this summer, "Hi my name is Becky and I marched the even years." I've always said that life is divided into chapters, and by aging out I finally finished writing the color guard/drum corps chapter of my life. My chapter began as a rookie coming into a 13th-place place drum corps. My parents, just like many other parents, didn't want me to go away the summer before my freshman year of college. Many people take that year off, thinking that the transition is too hard. I thought it was a great opportunity to get out of the house, unofficially, before officially moving out for college. My parents finally gave me permission, but with the condition that I wouldn't return in 2001 because of financial reasons. I went away, came back as a top-12 finalist and kept my promise the next summer. It was difficult not going back to my friends that I had made the summer before. It was even more difficult at the corps banquet, when I couldn't go to practice the next day with everyone. The summer of 2001 wasn't a total waste. I taught three high schools and worked. I've always wanted to teach, and I became the everyday, live-out-of-your-car color guard instructor. I taught two days and week and taught another band camp at the end of the summer. I loved working at the mall. My best friend from there, Mitch, went back to march with the Crossmen color guard. All summer it was me, my car and work. I went to a show and only watched the Bluecoats. The color guard was beautiful. The horns and drums were outstanding. (I'm biased of course) They had a few holes at the Hershey show and my staff tried everything to get me on the bus. I couldn't. I would be breaking several contracts with band directors if I went. I knew I could afford to come back in 2002 and told my caption head I was coming. After I came back from 2002, I became heavily involved with my college newspaper, The Daily Collegian. I was moving up the corporate ladder of positions offered to students and knew that I was a top candidate for the highest position, business manager. The only downfall to accepting the position as business manager is the contract, which states that the business manager must be at school the second summer session, the end of June to August. If I took the position I would yet again give up color guard for a job that I've always wanted. I went to banquet and went to the 2003 audition camp, but it would be my only camp. It took me until January to tell my caption head that I wouldn't be able to march because I had accepted the job at the newspaper. He understood, after all, he always told me that color guard does not pay the bills and it always can't be your life. I came back in 2004 to age out and finish the chapter I had started four years ago. It was something I needed to do. And like so many people reading this column, you can't always march for five years straight. Of all the girls I started with in 2000 that were to march for five years and age out together in 2004, only one made it, Emily Vanston. She put her life on hold for color guard and has written an exceptional chapter in her life. There are plenty of others that I have marched with for six and seven years. I don't regret not marching; it was a personal choice I had to make. Fortunately for me, my overall chapter of my five years was filled with everything that I wanted to accomplish. I taught. I succeeded professionally at school. I marched and aged out of a top-six drum corps. I wouldn't have written my chapter any other way. Becky Novac currently lives in Hoboken, N.J., and works for Universal McCann in New York City as an assistant media planner. She is 22 years old and a recent graduate from Penn State University where she majored in journalism and psychology. Becky marched with the Bluecoats in 2000, 2002 and 2004 as a member of the color guard.