30 shows and 14 wins this past season. Not a bad percentage, especially if you factor in that 3 of those 30 shows were rained out. You know, in years to come I may look back on this past summer and that’s what might just stand-out as much as anything…the rain! Days like Stillwater, Minnesota (nothing still about the water that day!) or Hornell, New York bordered on insanity. It seemed we would never get dry!

But when it wasn’t raining, we did what we have done for over 40 years: performed and competed. The competitive results prove that this year’s corps lived up to the great reputation that the corps has been known for: 14 first places, our 31st consecutive year in DCI Finals and our 21st time placing in the prestigious Top 5. Fan reviews come in with glowing reports of how the show became yet another classic in our long history of memorable productions, and we certainly were one of the most improved corps over the course of the season. A top 3 brass program, a drum line that ranked all year among the 5 best out there and a color guard that, as always, was beautiful and extremely talented. And, once again, award-winning drum majors.

But there’s so much more to this season than those facts. The members pulled together one of our more difficult productions, and in the end created a show that not only met the highest of competitive standards, but that thrilled audiences and will sit proudly with any of the greatest Regiment showings. The members truly made this season. Great young people. Talented, fun, quick with a smile, willing to take ownership of the corps both on and off the field. They set a standard for years to come.

True, in some ways it was a tough season. I contend that it was easier to go from 8th to 4th than it will be to go to from 4th to 1st. I think the biggest challenge was making the show click. We felt we needed to “up” the demand of the book, and we did. It took awhile for the members to “get their hands aorund it”, so to speak, and sometimes it seemed it also took a little extra time for the fans and judges to grab onto it. But by the end we delivered, and the fans and judges responded. We learned a lot about ourselves this year. We learned how to work a bit harder, a lot smarter and that we can face a challenge and meet it head on – we never gave up, we never got negative. These lessons bode well for 2005, and more importantly, are lessons the members can take into their adulthood.

The road was smooth (OK, not I-70 around St. Louis, but you know what I mean!), of the 31 years I have been on the drum corps tour, this certainly was as smooth as I have ever seen. What a great support staff! Drivers that were not only true pros, but the friendliest and most fun-loving bunch one could ask for. Bob J and his team (too many to list here, but ya’ know who you are!) kept these kids safe and got ’em to the gig on time…usually early to be honest. Food crew? Also hard-working, dedicated and a heck of a lot of fun to be with. I gained weight this summer, and that’s the best compliment I can think to give. Souvie crew…always willing to go the extra mile, always presenting a warm and welcoming face to the public, fans and alumni that stop by the trailer. Wardrobe crew worked hard, made sure we were clean, shiny and looking like a million dollars. Hey, when you’re a corp that picks a white uniform and then get rained on nearly everyday, you need the best, and Barb and her team certainly are! We also have a host of others that come and do a multitude of roles – call them management, call them “tour help”, whatever…they certainly make the differance on the road. Thankfully we had folks like Brandon, Robin, Josh, Pirate and Travis willing to be at my beck-and-call, working the lowliest of jobs and worst of all, dealing with me. But y’all did what I asked: make sure the members and volunteers have the best possible time.

We have a Board of Directors that is willing to help behind the scenes to make sure the doors stay open. Tim Farrell..an unsung hero, believe me. Greg, Tim and JB running two great shows (among the hundred other things they do!), Mark, Mindy and Tim keeping the bills paid and lights on, and I could go on and on.

The two Dans…Dan Farrell and Dr. Dan. They make sure we all remember what Phantom Regiment stands for. Our concience, if you will. Better friends could not be found.

Our teaching and design staff this year was a big group. Trust me when I say their compensation is miniscule compared to the effort they put in. I can look each of them in the eye and truly believe that they are here for the right reason: they love Phantom Regiment and they absolutely care about the members. Yes, they have a tough job to do, and like any adult leader, they don’t always tell the kids what they want to hear, but most often, it’s what they need to hear. We hear the fans cheer, they hear the criticisms and take the front-line heat when things don’t work right. But through it all, I assure you that this staff teaches lessons far more important than how to gain 2 more tenths. I am truly humbled to be affiliated with them.

Our fans, boosters and alumni. You truly drive this corps. Thanks for the heartfelt fan letters, from the Phan-o-grams on the souvie booth and the sincere well-wishes left on voice-mail. I cannot express how those make a day brighter and keep us motivated. When an alumni or fan leaves a note telling the kids how proud they are of them, well, you should see their smiles. Your support, and yes, your financial support, makes all the differance here. At the end of the day, placements and scores are not the final measure of our success, but rather what means the most is how we are perceived in the eyes of our fans.

Our endorsers and sponsors make sure these kids are provided the finest equipment possible. Man, that new equipment truck sure made a differance! Loading was so much easier! What a cool graphic on the side too, eh? Thank you Process Graphics, and thank you Rockford Kiwanis Club, and thanks also to Bill, JB, Mark and crew for building it!

Pearl Drums, KING Ultimate Brass, Stanbury Uniforms, Innovative Percussion, Remo, Zildjian, Breathing Gym, Pyeware, StylePlus and MTX: Thank you! We are proud to use your products and were proud to sport your shirts and announce your name at the many clinics we did this season. We hope our efforts made you equally proud.

Rockford Register-Star made sure our hometown was kept abreast of our successes, Rockford should be proud of this fine newspaper. Rockford College, Keith School, Winnebago Schools and Beloit High School all worked so hard to meet our facility needs and earned our deepest gratitude. Many local vendors worked with us to make sure we had food, fuel and other products when we needed them most. We are proud to be Rockford’s ambassadors and equally proud to give back to the community any way we can.

Drum Corps International and all the good people there worked hard to make sure we could do what we do best: wow the fans. From Mr. Acheson’s friendship, advice and support to the volunteers parking buses, I am so impressed with how our activity has become so professional, yet never looses sight of the core consituancy. Kudos to all of you! It has become an actual pleasure to deal with anyone wearing that blue DCI shirt. Thank you!

Lastly, please indulge me as I take a personal moment to thank my fellow corps directors and leaders, all who endure me on the tough days, laugh with me on the good and inspire me as I move along in this career. Hanging out (hiding out?!) in Pete Emmon’s RV or Rick Valenzuela’s camper gave me some of my best summer memories. Cheers to all of you, and yes, dinner’s on Mark Arnold this fall! Lastly, on an even more personal note – let me say that my wife Attica is the best drum corps wife anyone could wish for. For two months we had 5 Japanese kids living in our basement, and then I ran off for 8 weeks leaving her with 3 dogs. Now that’s a good woman!

SO….what more can I say friends? Your Phantom Regiment is in great shape. Great kids, surounded by the best adult volunteers, teachers and fans one could hope for, creating classic performances, deeply rooted in our hometown and drum corps communities and with a bright future ahead of it. That, and a little rain, is what made 2004 a special season.

What’s up for 2005? Well, we just now unloaded the trucks, so our hands are a little full right now, and details still a bit fuzzy. I’m on board, so is Dan Farrell along with about 90% of the above mentioned folks. Expect a very, very cool show (that’s the only hint you all get for now!), a really, really big contra line and you just may possibly see us back on the west coast early season. Maybe. How’s that for a tease? Keep your eye on Regiment.org! (and pick up a souvie while you’re there!)

Regiment vets, hope to see you at auditions and interested young people, 2005 is exactly the right time to become a member of Phantom Regiment. To everyone else, thanks for being there for us in 2004 – keep cheering this great corps on! SUTA, Pat Seidling