WGI Independant Open Bronze Medalists

It’s been a hell of a drumline season.

Rehearsing for approximately 22 hours every weekend all the way up in St. Louis since October through April 23 carrying a 35 lb drum constantly calls for a lot of energy. 

This season was my fourth season marching bass drum, third season marching competitively, and first season competing in WGI and in a non affiliated school group. It was a wild ride.

Honestly, we started off a bit rough. From getting yelled at rehearsal every weekend to doing Tabata workouts to constant back aches, it was worth it this weekend.

We traveled to Dayton, Ohio for WGI World Championships this past weekend to represent St. Louis and our organization. There were Scholastic A drumlines there, Open class, World class, and several more. We competed in Prelims on Thursday, Semifinals on Friday, and Finals on Saturday.

Last year was the first year Freedom has ever even made finals in history. They placed 14th overall and that even there was a great accomplishment for the group. This year was insane. 

We scored a 90.213 in prelims. Freedom has never, in history, broken a 90 or close to a 90. This was huge.

We placed 2nd in our round and 7th overall. Because we placed 7th, we moved onto to Semifinals Friday.

In Semifinals, we scored a 92.688! This was CRAZY! Our front ensemble caption head told us in the beginning of the season that he had a number in mind that he would be content with the season if we hit it. It was a 92. We placed 2nd in our round again but bumped up to 5th place overall! We made it to finals!

Warming up in the lot for final was great. We were the talk of Open class so we had a crowd in the lot and fan clubs. It was a bit chilly but once we got drumming there was no stopping. We finished up and began heading in.

Once we got in the back of the arena, we had to bring all of our equipment down a steep hill inside to get to the floor. There was the tunnel. Only finalists get to experience “the tunnel.” This was it. The last time competing our show, performing our show, performing with this group who has turned into my family over the past 6 months. I peaked out through the curtains and could not believe the crowd that was there. To see our show.

They opened the curtain and said “let’s go Freedom.”

We pushed out our tarp, props, carried our drums, pulled out the tarp, stretched it, and set up in our beginning set.

This was it. Deep breaths. This was the last time I would perform this show in these costumes with these people. The show that contains 6 1/2 minutes of music we cleaned like crazy for 6 months and endless hours of practice. The pain went away. The hardwork and backaches were forgotten.

“Freedom Percussion, you may take the floor.”

Basses had one of their best runs all season long. We fuckin’ rocked it. Visually, we finally came together.

Everyone finally believed we were good.

We got told so many times how much we sucked and that we “didn’t want to kill people.”

Finally, we believed.

The lights, the crowd, the cheering.

Something I will never forget.

We finished our run and were breathing heavily with the pride under our breaths.

We did it. It’s over. The hard work is over.

We loaded the truck, our equipment, our drums, and waited for full retreat.

We walked in, and it was unbelievable.

The lights were multicolored and looked like a party to be honest. 

They called Scholastic scores first, then it was Open class’ turn.

They went down the line beginning with 15th place. Finally, they got up to 7th and 6th place. THEY STILL HADN’T CALLED OUR NAME!

We couldn’t believe it.

Finally, once they approached fourth place, we squeezed each other. Were we going to be a medalist??

In fourth place with a score of ______, Spirit Winter Percussion. 

With our arms wrapped around each other, the basses just squeezed and hugged each other. Tears rushed down my face with a huge smile. I couldn’t believe it.

Freedom Percussion accomplished our goal of walkingaway with metal around our necks and the title of being a WGI Independant Open class medalist.

I am so proud to have been a part of this drumline this year and am excited to see the years to come.

Thinking Of My Cat

This past weekend, I competed in a Horse Show through the IHSA, Intercollegiate Horse Show Association, at SIUC, Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

I placed third out of four in my class which I am happy about because I just wanted to progress and I am!

Anyway, as I arrived, I parked my car, got out, found my team, and hung out for a bit until the coaches got out of the coach meeting prior to the show to begin.

As I stood behind a few of my teammates who were seated in lawn chairs, I glanced over, looking to see who was there to compete.

To my right, I swore that was her. I looked straight at this girl and stared for a solid minute. I couldn’t believe what I saw or most importantly who I saw.

I SWORE it was Natalie. 

I freaked out because, well, she doesn’t walk this Earth anymore. Girl, I thought you were supposed to stay up there…

This girl was a little bit thinner than Natalie was but her facial features were freaking identical. Her eyes were just as sparkling and beautiful and her smile was literally identical. This girl even had the same teeth as Natalie and for those of you who knew Natalie know what I mean.

I was in awe and shock. I could not believe my eyes and was so confused but amazed.

At these horse shows, we don’t bring our horses from our barns; we ride horses that are provided through the college hosting the show. It was time for the remaining classes to draw their horses, so I briskly walked over with some of my teammates.

When my class was called, Class 14, I lined up with three other girls who were competing against each other.

I looked to see who was in my class and on my left was the girl.

Now, I told myself, I swear if her name is Natalie or Clare, I’m going to actually freak out. Thankfully, it was Tabitha. Before we picked our horses, I leaned over and told her, “I have to tell you, you look exactly like one of my best friends.” She replied with, “I get that a lot!” I had to tell her, but obviously not the whole story.

Out in the arena, I felt great riding. Logan was so smooth to ride and we got along great. He was this little girl’s horse who seemed about 12 or so and she was so sweet. I told her before I rode, “Don’t worry I’ll take care of your horse, but he better take care of me, too!” She giggled.

After my class rode, we lined up so the judges could reveal our scores. 

In fourth place, rider ___ (some number I don’t remember), Tabitha.

In third place, rider number 205, Renee Owens from Southeast Missouri State.

I beat Tabitha, SHE was the one I beat.

If that’s not Natalie looking after me, I don’t know what is/was.

I swear she was my guardian angel on Saturday because I went in expecting nothing more than last, but having a better ride personally and cleaning up my riding.

I miss her a ton, but there isn’t anything any of us can do except know she’s looking after us.

I went through my text messages last night looking through them and deleting the conversations that I no longer need. One of the conversations toward the bottom that I have saved is the last conversation I had with her. It was talking about the next coffee date we were going to have and me going off to college. We said that we were going to miss each other and were going to get together as soon as I get back. Her last text I received from her was “I love you so much.”

I will never forget these words and will take her love for me and others, carry it on and give it to my loved ones.

I love you forever, Nat Cat Kelley and I will always miss your crazy, sweater-lovin, animal crazed, and garlic bread obsessed self.

Oh, and your eyebrows, I know.

Freedom Percussion Auditions

I’m auditioning for Freedom Percussion which is a WGI competitive indoor drumline.

Ever since I joined band, I always looked up to these incredible musicians and my fellow band members and I would catch ourselves gazing and analyzing videos of these incredible groups.

I didn’t realize how much I missed marching with good drummers until I got to college. No offense, but we suck here at SEMO. Only half of us take it seriously and it’s difficult when we don’t even have a Percussion instructor dedicated to marching band.

So many of the members complain the whole freaking practice and I cannot stand it. If we start warmups even 3 minutes before 4:00, one of the basses looks at her phone for the time and rolls her eyes. Half the time she doesn’t even start warmups with us. The technique of the line is all over the board, too. 

Ever since I went to the first freedom camp, I realized not only the camaraderie of the members, but the seriousness of the activity. To become great and incredible, the commit and intensity must be up at all times. To achieve greatness, each member must put in their all, all the time.

I’m not saying I’m better than any member on my college drumline, but I just miss marching at a competitive level and trying to become as great as I know we could be.

It’s looking pretty good for getting a contract and a spot on the Freedom line this year! I’m so so thrilled and couldn’t be more grateful. 

If you would have asked me two years ago, I would’ve said that I wasn’t going to be good enough to ever march for one of these groups, that they would remain to be the groups that I would just watch and admire through YouTube. 

That goes to show how hard someone can work and the incredible outcome.

Wish me luck for the rest of the audition camps!!

Truman State Hunt Show

Growing up, I always wanted to ride horses. I never had the time and money to fulfill that dream of mine and pursued sports instead. However, when I got to SEMO, I decided to join the equestrian team!

You can either ride Western or English Hunt & I chose English because I like the riding better.

This weekend was our first show at Truman State University! 

I am the only new member who competed and who is even close to competing, so it’s awesome! Ive been riding about 6 weeks now and I competed against people who have been riding their whole lives, yet it’s their first IHSA competition, so they have to start in the beginning class.

I placed 6th out of 6 yesterday on Pearl, but I knew I wasn’t going to place well after my ride. My stirrup on my left side was janky and her saddle was weird. It just depends because it’s a random draw and it’s a horse you’ve never ridden before, but it’s fair!

Sunday, today, I placed 4th out of 4th, but I felt soooo much better about my ride. However, I’m still learning my diagonals, so that’s what I need to work on, but other than that, my posting was good, 2-point stance, sitting trot and all of that was good!

I’m just lucky to finally be doing what I’ve been wanting to do forever! It was awesome this weekend.

Instead of rooming with my teammates in a hotel, I stayed with one of my best friends from high school in his dorm. He saved me at least $60 so I’m thankful.

I had fun with his friends and they’re all just so chill! I may have met one of them and clicked with him scary well for not knowing him. We’re very similar and long story short, we pulled an all nighter last night (my first one) and I still competed well! 

It was a great weekend.

#3

Why?

I’m confused, I’m frustrated, I’m weak.

I don’t understand. She had love. She had passion. She has┬álove. She has┬ápassion.

Great things in life often shine through those around you. She has so so so much love for her and she had NO idea how much people loved her.

She was different. She was sweet, sincere, a little crazy, but incredible. People don’t know what they have until it’s too late.

I don’t understand why they all completely cut off their lives.

Even when you feel alone, you aren’t because so many people love you and you just have to reach out.

I’ve lost 3 close friends in the past 14 months who are all ages 19-25. They didn’t realize how much they’ve already come, but they really didn’t realize how much further they could have gone. We have SO much achievement, amazement, passion, and love ahead of us.

I’m loss for words and just don’t get it.

RIP my friends. Know that you were absolutely loved by all your friends and family around you, especially me.

I love you Tony, my brother, Harry, my brother, and Natalie, my sister. Forever and Always.

Exhausted of This Atmosphere

I’m so exhausted feeling like she doesn’t give two shits about me. 

Oh my daughter has strep throat, okay, I’m just gonna complain about my knee because I haven’t gotten any attention or sympathy yet today.

She posted on Facebook how worried she was because Mike was in Urgent Care and oh send prayers. Hello. I was in the urgent care two days ago and was (basically) diagnosed with strep. My tonsils are inflamed, but it’s fine, I’m fine, I’ll make my own damn dinner when you won’t even get out of bed when you’re “sick” and need to be waited on.

I hate being the less favored child.

My dad, he doesn’t have a favorite and I love that because that’s how it should be.

Yes, I’m a brat, but so is every female, get over it. It’s in our nature! And my bratiness grows significantly when around other brats.

There’s someone at camp who’s a counselor, but she’s also a mom and she’s so awesome. She’s so incredibly down to earth and just so humble. She has two sons, ages 13 & 16, so it’s not like she’s crazy young. She was telling me about how she & her younger son volunteer at this dog place and they take them for walks just because. They said they do it almost every day and it’s not for hours or anything, but for pure contentment and fullness.

I wish I was constantly around someone like that, but she’s never in a beautiful attitude like she is in front of everyone else and it’s just so tiring.

She wonders why I stay in my room so much and I am so ready to move into my dorm in 1 month. 

I cannot wait. 

This sounds bitchy, but I need a break.

Maw Maw

My parents & I stopped by my Grandma’s retirement home before heading to Circus Flora.

I haven’t been there in forever, but I don’t like to go. My grandma and I used to get along really well, but lately, her health has been soooo bad. 

She won’t stop smoking.

I’ve told her, I’ve begged her, I’ve cried in front of her over it.

I’m over it now because she just won’t quit. 

The only time I really go over there is if my parents drag me.

She never came to anything of mine all through high school, so why should I give her my time? It’s not like she knows many of my friends anymore, so really, there’s not much to talk about anymore. 

She’s my only grandparent left, so I wish we had a better relationship, but if she’s not going to try, I’m not…

It’s rough, but oh well.