Spirit of New Jersey's Drum Major Terry Lang Jr. has been a charter member with the corps since 1991. And he's only 19 years old. He was six years old when he started on triangle and then xylophone, cymbals, bass, quints, snare, and finally pulled out of snare to help as drum major this year. This 13-year hobby began in elementary school with a flyer. Some of his sisters and other family members also marched. So it was rehearsals in the recreation center in an industrial area that Lang learned corps rudiments. "The challenge for this show was the heat," said Lang. The altitude may have also contributed. The EMT unit, stationed at the field corner, has been treating heat exhaustion, asthma related conditions, and altitude-related sickness all day. They start them young in Spirit of New Jersey – formerly Spirit of Newark. Twelve year old Angela Ferrera started out in color guard then moved into the assistant drum major's position. She was impressed two years ago by her brother's involvement and has been jazzed being with the group ever since. Lang better watch out – Ferrera has her eyes on his spot! Assistant Director Harold Wright explains that Spirit of New Jersey has kids from 11 to 19. Started in 1991 as a standstill corps, they went competitive the next year in the now defunct Garden State Circuit. It's a corps with a mission. "We try to get youngsters out of the city, to mix with people, and see other cities – to expand their horizons. Oh and we teach them music," Wright laughs. Calling himself the grand-daddy, this 67-year old man should be in retirement but says, "This is my life, my work. I love it." He has much to share with more than 42 years performing with DCA's Skyliners and puffs his chest looking at the kids having fun with the photo op. "From thugs to players," he boasts. Hopefully, their "urban sounds" will generate and inspire performers from all over the country. Victor Averos, a 14-year old soprano, started with the corps when he was 10 years old. Today he was one of their soloists, something he is comfortable with. "I'm used to it," says Averos who has been soloing for two years. With clear enthusiasm, he tells of his favorite portion of their show, "Hey Ya", ambitions to eventually performing with a top Division I corps, and how much he loves Spirit of New Jersey. With a wide smile and in a confident voice he proclaims, "Spirit will never die!"
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