Becky Novac
This week Matt Leinart, the quarterback for the football national champion USC, decided he would not enter the NFL draft. He is staying in school, finishing his degree, and will undoubtedly win a record-breaking third consecutive national title. He also will be making a run to win the Heisman trophy, awarded to college football's best athlete, for a second time. However, others have decided to go pro. Nikolas Besagno was just drafted by Real Salt Lake, a Major League Soccer team. He is 16. He hasn't even started college yet. Michelle Wie plays professional golf. She is 15. The list could go on and on to list the numerous athletes who leave college for professional sports or don't even start college before becoming a professional. They have a million questions to weigh before making such a life-changing decision, especially Leinart. He would be leaving school and not finishing his degree. He would be leaving the beginning of a dynasty and enter a world he has probably dreamed of since he started playing football. He has the chance now. Why not take it? He may get injured next year at USC and not be able to ever enter the NFL. Not to mention the signing bonus and contract worth millions. A similar decision is made by those involved with the drum corps activity. Many people write to me or ask me why I don't march senior corps if I miss marching so much. Well, I have marched senior corps before I marched with the Bluecoats. I marched with the Reading Buccaneers in 1999. Maybe I'll go back to marching senior corps one day. I doubt it, but maybe. You never know with me. For those that don't know, senior corps is run by Drum Corps Associates. Most corps are on the East Coast, with a few throughout the rest of the country. You never age out of senior corps. I marched next to men and women who were over 40 and going strong. Practice is only on the weekends. Some corps start on Friday nights and go through Sundays. Traveling to shows sometimes means that you and your friends carpool together. If the show site is far away, the corps does provide transportation. Finals are in September. The judging is a little different, but I'm no expert, so I won't go into that aspect. All in all it's a good time with friends. My year with the Bucs was a great summer. I learned a lot about the activity and met great people whom I still talk to. The one thing I learned that summer was to adapt and accept change wholeheartedly. I had no option but to accept change without hesitation. I had two separate sets of instructors that summer, two different uniforms, and two different sets of work. Basically, I learned two shows in 1999. When my one tech, Bert, told me it was going to be a summer to remember, I had no idea that she meant that I would have to learn two different shows. But it all worked out in the end. Plenty of people march senior corps straight through their age-out year and never audition for a junior corps. Despite what some people may think, there are plenty of senior corps members who could make any top-12 drum corps they wanted, but for these people they decided that senior corps is what's best for them. These people decide not to "turn professional." When I try and explain drum corps to people that have absolutely no clue, I simply say it's professional marching band. Horrible description, I know, but I found it to be the easiest definition for people who don't know the difference from a flute and a tuba. For me, I decided to turn "professional." I gave up my summers and had a blast. Not everyone can make the same decision. Just like in drum corps, there are athletes after college who may decide to leave and never play sports again, even if they could turn professional. It's a hard decision to make. A lot of people put their lives on hold until after they age out. They don't go to school. They work instead, to make money to pay for the summer. I continued to go to school, but could not take an internship and turned down a job to be a "Hotdogger," the person that drives the Weinermobile across the country. I would have loved that job! Turning professional is a sacrifice you have to be willing to make. It's not always easy. What you have to remember is that there are people who can't make the sacrifice for numerous reasons, and despite this, they are still talented. Just because they didn't make the commitment to leave home for three months, they still have talent. They might be envious of those who have the ability to fulfill their dreams by marching junior corps, but at the end of the summer they still feel the same way. No matter if I chose to march Bluecoats or stay at Reading for the rest of my marching career, I still would feel the same sense of accomplishment. At Reading, we finished second and finally beat the Caballeros. I made great friends, just like in the Bluecoats. It's disheartening that there are plenty of talented people who really want to march DCI but for some reason just can't. It doesn't matter how you show your talent to the world or which venue you choose to bare your passion and soul to an audience. In the end I know that they got the overall sense of the drum corps experience, and that's what matters most, "professional" or not. 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.