LOHS graduates among winners of world championship drum competition

By Chris Hagan
Review Staff Writer
Last month, 17 Lake Orion High School alumni competed in the highest level marching band competition in the world.
One competed on a team that took first place, while four others took third place.
Described as the Super Bowl for marching band, the Drum Corp International World Championship is the toughest and most competitive marching band competition, where only the best are allowed to participate.
Trumpet player and 2013 graduate Josh Meyer was among the world champion corp, the Bluecoats.
On Aug. 13, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, the 150-person corp walked away with its first ever gold medal, scoring a 97.650 out of a 100 in its final competition of the season.
In the moment, Meyer was having an extremely surreal experience, fearing that if he went to sleep that night it would all be a dream.
Nearly a quarter of his life has been involved with the drum corp and to end up winning was an unbelievable experience.
“So much work goes into the activity that you stop thinking about what might happen at the end,” Meyer said.
“It’s all about the next rep, the next set; every fiber of your being is focused on it. When final scores are announced you’re almost not ready to be done,” he said.
“For some it was a year long journey, but for me it was five. I joined a corp that just came off of a seventh place finish, and now we just won gold,” Meyer said.
Lake Orion Marching Band director Michael Steele said drum corp international is not simply something beginners are able to achieve. It’s for the most experienced and the best in their craft.
Thousands of students from all over the country travel to Texas, Wyoming, the Carolinas, and Wisconsin to audition to be able to play with a marching band corp.
Those thousands get whittled down to a mere 150, at the most, and that corp, or team, competes against other corps throughout the country.
“The students who generally participate are among the very best marchers in their band program at their school, and pretty much everyone that’s involved has fit that qualification for us,” Steele said.
“These marchers are like the pro ranks to a high school.”
Four LOHS graduates from the Carolina Crown corp took bronze — 2015 graduates Kim Hupperich, Katie Tyrrell and Thomas Wharton, along with 2013 graduate Thomas Vieira.
In total, 17 Lake Orion Alumni competed at the World Championships, including one current soon-to-be senior, Lani Leach.
According to Steele, the dedication and physical demands needed by the marchers are on par with conventional sports teams.
The duration of activity, coupled with the weight requirements of the instruments and the lung capacity for the musical element, makes it just as tiresome as football or basketball.
Steele says it’s one of the hidden misconceptions of marching band; that it’s easy and involves walking with little physical effort. Meyer also agreed and went a step further in saying that all the time spent at the gym, in the end, was worth the sacrifice of parties and hanging out with friends.
“It was a sense of immense satisfaction, everything I had dedicated and sacrificed paid off,” Meyer said.
“Every time I lost sleep to go to the gym, every time I told friends ‘sorry, I have to practice,’ and every extra class I took to get ahead in school just so I could have the summers free…It all added up,” Meyer said.