The birth of my daughter - it's not sports/marching related and I don't give a damn, it was far and away the biggest thing to happen in 2011. Anastasia was born on March 13 and my life is forever changed for the better. On the sports/marching front, though, there are a few things worth reporting. I watched UMBC lacrosse play Hopkins in the Faceoff Classic from the hospital room (no, my wife was not in active labor at the time). Upon seeing that event scheduled, I thought that I would have loved to make it, but knowing it was less than two weeks before the due date, I knew it wasn't a possibility. Anastasia was born the next morning. She was in the neonatal ICU for her first week; I live in the state of North Carolina and it was the height of March Madness, but if you wanted to find a place in the state where no one gives a damn about college basketball, this was it. Nowadays, she's starting to become quite the drummer
ACC Tournament - Rewind about a week or so, and I made my way to the ACC men's basketball tournament for the second year in a row. Same MO this time around--we headed to the Greensboro Coliseum lot to see what we could see and once again got in for a decent ticket. We also checked out the then-newly opened ACC Hall of Champions, which is on the Coliseum grounds.
UMBC lacrosse at Chapel Hill - Actually, I missed this one. We had originally planned to be there, but a friend of ours got married that day. It was even in the plans to head to both--the wedding was east of Chapel Hill and early enough that it seemed like a possibility--but confusion on my part about when the game started led to us missing it. We would have been witnessing a loss for the Dawgs anyway.
DCI Tour of Champions/Summer Music Games of Southwest Virginia - I was excited about DCI's new Tour of Champions format and looked forward to attending an event. Carolina Crown's NightBEAT, which I typically attend anyway, was one, and my crew and I headed down, even forgoing the usual tailgating to check out what all the format had to offer. There were some cool goings on as far as pre-show activities and warmups. We made it through the intro and Teal Sound's performance before we had to evacuate the stadium (and its metal stands) as the skies opened up to the thunderstorm that ultimately canceled the event. The fine folks at Carolina Crown did their best to make it up to the audience though; they first announced they would honor tickets at the Tidewater Summer Music Games (also a Crown event) and ultimately struck a deal with the folks who run the Summer Music Games event in Salem, VA to honor tickets there as well. That show had me sitting behind the end zone and viewing the show from the side (the tickets available were standing room only) but there's plenty to be said for being able to take in a show in the picturesque mountains of Southwest VA.
FSU vs. Wake Forest - As I have the past few years, I went to see FSU football with my friends James and Rachel, both Florida State alums. As this game was adjacent to the Dixie Classic Fair, we decided to fairgate for this one. Definitely a good time, though it was an FSU loss.
NC Pro-Am - I headed out to Durham to see the NC Pro-Am on the campus of NC Central, a basketball summer series consisting of matchups between teams comprised of professional and amateur athletes. On the day I was there, Rasheed Wallace, Austin Rivers, and Seth Curry were all present.
Drumline Live - If ever there were a stage production made for me, this was it. Drumline Live is to HBCU marching bands what Blast! is to drum corps. The tour brought it to Charlotte this past year, and it was every bit as spectacular as you might imagine.
Snare a World Record - On the 4th of July, I gathered in downtown Greensboro in an attempt to snare a world record. The goal was 1,776 drummers doing a roll at once. We fell short of that number, and the record (though we set a new US record) but it was nice to come out of retirement!
Realignment - Who new conference realignment would go gorillas this past year? Let's see if my math is right on this one, in no particular order: Texas A&M and Missouri SECeded, WVU and TCU EXIIted, Syracuse and Pitt get ACCepted, and UCF, Houston, Boise State, San Diego State, and SMU join those who were left BEhind. But that oversimplifies it, doesn't it? In reality, we sat perched on the precipice of superconferences for a solid portion of the year, and I found it simultaneously exciting and unnerving, particularly as an alum of a school in the Big East, which still has the sword of Damocles hanging over its head.
Scandals - Two huge scandals sent shockwaves through both the college football and marching worlds. In football, allegation of Jerry Sandusky's child molestation at Penn State rocked a program and ultimately led to the unceremonious firing of Joe Paterno, coach of the program for 45 years.
In marching, a hazing incident at FAMU led to the death of one of the drum majors of the Marching 100. The 100 still remains on suspension as Robert Champion's death and many other hazing allegations within the legendary, Sudler Trophy-winning band.
The Cadets - it is by no means a surprise that The Cadets are back on top of DCI. The surprise is that I was rooting for them every step of the way. I've often been critical of the corps, and often flat out not liked what they brought to the field. but this year's production, Between Angels and Demons, was one for the ages, and I was glad to see it take the gold.
Looking forward to in 2012
This spring the Charlotte Hounds, one of two new franchises in Major League Lacrosse, will begin play. While I'm not a huge follower of the MLL, I'm looking forward to having a relatively local team, and it's my plan to head down for the home opener in late April. I'm also looking forward to Greensboro once again hosting NCAA basketball tournament action.
80 Minutes and Beyond
Finally, I just want to say a few things about what's happening over here. In 2011, I started the 80 Minutes (Give or Take) podcast, bought 80minutesofregulation.com, and fulfilled my promise of "more" at the start of college football season by giving you the Band on the Road project, the BOTR Game of the Week, and the most extensive bowl band coverage the internet has to offer in the Big Band Bowl Battle. What's in store for 2012? Stay tuned...