Here I sit on my first weekend “off” since I’m honestly not sure when and my mind started to wander through the memories of my years in the Reading Buccaneers. 1983 – 1990. Not the best ones for the corps by any stretch of the imagination, but for me they are cherished times that I would never have wanted to play out in any other manner. …except maybe that 2nd place in ’84 and 2nd place in ’85. 🙂
The corps was not very strong in my rookie year but what did I know, I was a rookie! It was not Matt Krempasky who kept me going, nor, ironically enough, neither was it George N. Parks who kept the fire first burning in me. It was a baritone player by the name of Chuck Runkle who may have taught me my greatest lesson: always believe. No matter what the situation is, give 100% all the time and ALWAYS BELIEVE. You see every weekend I would arrive at Buc Field and Chuck would look at me, smile and say, “Heidi, we’re gonna win!”
We did not win of course, we placed 5th that year, but it was one heck of a hornline and one heck of recording! I never gave up and Reading became part of who I was and will always be as long as I walk this earth….or longer, who knows.
1984 & 1985 were also difficult–we did not always believe we would win…and yet those corps were in position to win! We did not believe it until it was too late and that’s how you lose by 0.45 and 0.65. Those corps were great however–we just questioned ourselves too much.
1986–a good year, but the slide began. We didn’t win in ’84 or ’85 and more and more people stopped believing. 1987–perhaps dreadful is the word that scratches the surface. 17 horns at the first winter rehearsal (I thought George was going to cry the whole way home). He wrote a 4 page letter to every corps alumni that winter trying harder than anyone I had ever seen to get people to believe again, to come back for his final season as drum major and join him in one last epic voyage….it didn’t work. People had stopped believing. I do not remember where we placed that year but it was not very high.
1988 & 1989: George had retired, I joined Darrell Weyman’s side as DM and the corps was not much better than death. Would we fold? Would it all end with me at the helm? No…but it was the hardest job I’ve ever had. To salvage a ship that is listing in the open waters is difficult by any stretch of the imagination. Yet somehow we did and Reading survived.
1990, my final voyage: “Batman” – what a year! We didn’t win but we were a corps who started to believe again. I was happy to retire after that only because I knew the future looked bright so I could move on.
It took from 1990 until 2005 for the corps to completely believe again. And that belief in who they are, what they do, and WHY they do it is very strong. And now, to be looking at a 7th championship in row (2005-2011) is almost unfathomable to most but not to me. For thanks to people like Chuck Runkle and George Parks, while there may be times when I question my beliefs, I will never truly ever stop believing!
Bring it home Reading—bring it home for yourselves, for those of us who wish we could still be on the sea of green with you, and for those of us who are sailing another sea on the other side.
There be a silent ship approaching that the living eye cannot see. The ship contains a crew of unmatched force, unmatched energy, & unprecedented power. The crew is more talented than any living corps. The captain of this ship dons wild red hair & a scraggly beard. His sword is a mace & he stands on the bridge at full sail. His orders are to hoist the Jolly Roger &d sail toward DCA on the winds of time.
The ghosts of our past will be “fighting” side by side w/my brothers & sisters this weekend. They be proud of ye! We’re all good men….