Phantom Regiment is pleased to welcome its newest inductees to the Phantom Regiment Hall of Fame.

The class of 2023 will add three members to the hall of fame: Joe Hickey, Rick Valenzuela, and Dr. John Wooton. This brings the total number of inductees to 57. There is one criterion for the hall of fame: Someone who has made a significant, long-lasting, and positive impact on the Phantom Regiment organization.

JOE HICKEY, who was nominated by Phantom Regiment board member and hall of famer Greg Newell, has been a member of the Phantom Regiment Board of Directors for 25 years and is the third-longest serving board member in the organization’s history.

Joe was elected to the board in 1998 after many years as a donor, instructor (winter guard 1983) and marching member (1982-84). He served as vice president of the board from 1999-2002 and has been the organization’s legal adviser since joining the board. His longtime employer, Dykema Gossett PLLC, has provided pro bono counsel for decades, saving Phantom Regiment thousands of dollars over the years.

He was a key player in initiating a turnaround that started in the late 1990s when the organization was in serious financial and organizational turmoil. Through the efforts of many, including Joe, the corps improved competitively over the course of several years, culminating in a world championship in 2008. Financially, the key improvements started the year before. Throughout all the years of challenges and growth, Joe has been an important voice behind the scenes and in board meetings.

As long-time president and hall of famer Tim Farrell said in his supporting letter, “While the average PR fan might say they’re not aware of any significant amount of legal issues faced by Phantom Regiment over the past 25 years, it is because these things were being handled with skill and determination by Joe.”

In his nomination letter, Greg said, “The things Joe does for the organization are not the things that make headlines, but they are critical to its survival and success.”

An additional letter of support was written by Phantom Regiment hall of famer and board member Mark Patterson.

Outside of Phantom Regiment, Joe has been an attorney for 35 years, primarily in the financial services industry. He lives in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., in the suburbs of Detroit.

RICK VALENZUELA, who was nominated by Phantom Regiment merchandise & marketing director Robert Cawthorne, was hired in late 2005 as development director for the Phantom Regiment organization, moving from his native California to Rockford. A year later, he was promoted to executive director, a position he held until January 2020.

Rick helped lead the organization from near financial disaster at the end of 2007 to strong financial footing in short order. There is no doubt he left the organization in better financial condition than it had been in decades, possibly ever.

Not only did he work extremely hard for Phantom Regiment, but he also dedicated many hours to the activity overall as a board member for Drum Corps International and in various committee leadership roles.

In his letter of nomination, Robert said, “He was the kind of leader who made sacrifices, so others didn’t have to. He lost sleep and spent a lot of time away from family, but even after all that, Rick always set the highest example for how to treat others: with fairness, kindness, trust, and loyalty.”

Rick was technically savvy and pushed Phantom Regiment’s operations forward. He established a strong social media presence – one of the first drum corps to do so – and helped build one of the activity’s first e-commerce solutions to create a solid revenue-generating engine that went beyond the summer drum corps tour.

Robin Lanning, vice president of the board of directors, worked closely with Rick for many years on marketing and merchandise. In her letter of support, she noted that Rick always put the future of Phantom Regiment first when making decisions.

“I suspect that this … informed his decision to step down as executive director,” she said. “Good leaders build a legacy. Great leaders pass it on.”

An additional letter of support was written by former conductor, tour manager, brass arranger and program coordinator Will Pitts.

JOHN WOOTON, who was nominated by Phantom Regiment board president Jeff Hassan, was the corps’ percussion caption head from 1987-89 after marching in the snare drum line from 1981-84.

John developed a reputation in just a few years as an outstanding instructor and educator, attracting many outstanding percussionists to Phantom Regiment. Today, he is a percussion professor at University of Southern Mississippi and continues to teach percussion clinics around the world.

He served as percussion section leader when he was a member and pushed his corpsmates to achieve greatness as a group, Phantom Regiment hall of famer John Baumgartner said in his supporting letter. He also noted that while Marty Hurley was the percussion arranger during those years, he trusted Wooten to write significant sections of the show, including the percussion features.

Many of the members that John taught in the late 1980s have gone on to successful careers as musicians themselves, including former section leader and then caption head and arranger Jeff Prosperie, who wrote a letter of support.

“As cliché as it may sound, many of us would not be where we are today without John’s level of excellence in instruction and arranging,” Prosperie said. “I value his level of excellence so much that my own son, who is about to start his fourth season in the snare line for Phantom Regiment, studies under Dr. Wooton as a student at the University of Southern Mississippi.”

Additionally, John is willing to help outside the percussion area. Hassan said in his nominating letter that John jumped at the chance to help raise money for the corps (after the lost season of 2020 that led to the first Phan-a-thon).


Join us for a celebratory night with dinner, drinks, auction bidding, and catching up with old friends!

Friday, July 14th | 6:00 pm
Riverview Inn and Suites and Cliffbreakers Conference Center

Additional award recipients, including the Mark Glasscoe Member of the Year, Service Award, and Chevron Award, will be recognized.