They're hard-working, award-winning and dedicated. A bit of an underdog — not quite a household name — but driven to excel nonetheless.
Sixty years ago, The Blue Saints Drum and Bugle Corps got its start. Six decades later, it is the fifth-oldest corps in North America, and one of only two left in the entire province.
Some 35 teenagers and young adults devote themselves to practising, rehearsing and performing with the competitive corps, clocking full-time hours on the training fields.
They arrive bright and early to begin stretching and limbering up before going through musical segments and routines with their marching-band mates.
Mark Ripley, director of the corps, said each and every one of the Blue Saints is full of “want and desire.”
It takes a special character to be on the team, as the responsibilities are quite taxing. When they aren't refining their act, the Saints are touring it.
Last December, they performed in 19 Santa Claus parades across the province, into Quebec and even in a number of US states. Making the trek south of the border is a common practise for the crew, as it's where they gain their competitive experience.
Just this past weekend, they scored a second-place finish at a trial in Wisconsin. The nine-judge panel was clearly impressed by the norther team's execution, sound, performance and showmanship. According to Ripley, the Saints have a knack for wowing the crowd — the corp has 11 national championships to its name, as well as countless more recent awards.
It makes the hard work all worthwhile.
Daniel Faubert has been a member of the Saints for the last six years, and looks forward to continuing his marching and music career with them.
“I really like the travelling and seeing new people,” he said. “And the experiences are great.”
In his time with the corp, he said he has learned about more than just marching.
“You become really hard working and dedicated,” he said.
Solid traits to grow up with, he and Ripley agreed.
“It's a tough way to grow up, but it's one of the best,” Ripley said. “When the trying times hit, you have the tools to deal with it.”
On July 21, the Blue Saints are putting on a show for hometown crowds at Laurentian University at the main stadium. The corps will hit the field “loud and proud” at 1 p.m. Along with the performance, the corp is celebrating its 60th anniversary with and dinner and dance at the Howard Johnson and social events where new members can meet those who stood in their shoes years before.
“The kids will actually see the members of the past,” Ripley said.
For more information about the corps, visit bluesaints.com.
Posted by Mark Gentili