Tag Archives: national high school drill team championships

An Open Letter to Sports Network International (SNI)

Before we begin, the results: positive. See you inside the Ocean Center this year.

Some Background
When I was stationed in Netherlands in the early to mid 1990s, I was trained in visual adjudication by two expert staff members of WGI who flew over and spent time with me and other prospective judges for Color Guard Nederland, the Dutch offshoot of WGI. I spent hours reading, quizzing, watching videos and making recorded commentary and then spent the next couple of indoor (Marching band-type) color guard seasons judging General Effect.

In 2009, I began writing books for the Military Drill World (MDW). My second book was an adaptation of Winter Guard Internationals Adjudication Manual that I adapted for the MDW with WGI’s permission. While I was writing it, I was also explaining it the best I could on a couple different forums with one of those forums belonging to SNI. In that forum I’m sure that I came off as a know-it-all to the owners and staff of SNI and also other forum contributors and readers. That was not my intention, but at the time, I did not know how else to relay the information that I had.I thought I could help others see what I saw, even if it ruffled some feathers at first.

I not only ruffled feathers, I insulted SNI’s the owners and staff by what I wrote in the forum- with the intention of explaining how the adjudication system I wrote would serve the MDW much better than any other system. Now, while I still believe that, I could have come across much better and even waited until I finished writing the manual and even sent complimentary copies to SNI’s staff for their perusal.

My insults to the National High School Drill Team Championships judging system was a slap in the face to Justin Gates and Samantha Ste.Claire. and Justin took appropriate steps by removing me from the forum and banning me from SNI events. I forced you into taking steps that, in the eyes of some, made you the bad guys, when it was my fault all along.

And the Main Point
sni_nhsdtc_logoIt is embarrassing to write this, to admit I was very wrong in my approach to something I have been so passionate about for decades. However, sin must be called sin and as a Christian man, while I may never live up to, Jesus, the Model set forth by God, I must strive to reach that goal and ask forgiveness when I fall short and boy, did I fall short.

Justin and Samantha: I sincerely apologize to you both and to the others who I may have offended on the SNI forums or elsewhere concerning this issue. Hindsight may be 20/20, but sometimes it takes some time for an incident to come into focus.

Yes, I would like to be allowed back into SNI’s competitions, but I know that it may not be the right time yet, that is up to Mr. Gates and Ms. Ste.Claire. I do not expect open arms and embraces any time soon, but maybe one day I can sit down with you both after a long Nationals weekend and we can laugh at how stupid my actions were.

I have never wished SNI, the owners or staff any ill, I only hope the best for them all. After all, a Nationals weekend is something that lives on in the memories of thousands of former cadets across the Drill Nation.

DrillMaster at Daytona Nationals 2013

National High School Drill Team Championships 2013, exhibition drill, regulation drill, color guard, color team
National High School Drill Team Championships 2013

The National High School Drill Team Championships were a big hit yet again! Drillers and teams from all over the country, Guam and Hawaii came to showoff their skills. Some teams left with trophies, others left with great pride in knowing they had done their best.

The picture at left is of me having a long and very good discussion about everything under the sun with a drill team coach. We will be working together in the future in honor guard and drill team endeavors.


Daytona Nationals 2013 Fans, exhibition drill, regulation drill, color guard, color team, fancy dril
Daytona Nationals 2013 DrillMaster Fans

The two gentlemen in the picture at right (C/Lt Cdr Jacob Lindsey and C/Lt JG Tevion Gray) are from St Louis, Missouri and attend the Cleveland Jr. Naval Academy. What’s remarkable about these two fine cadets is that they are on their school’s drill team and the team was not doing very well at competitions, this is until they bought Exhibition Drill for the Military Drill Team- both volumes. Interestingly, once they read both of my books, according to Cadet Lindsey, they began to have a better understanding as to what exhibition drill was about and the team began to sweep all of their drill meets in SY12/13! Yes, they swept the drill meets. As I constantly say, education is key- and this proves my point!

John Jay High School AFJROTC
Now owns a copy of each one of my books that I had available at my table, all except The DrillMaster: Filling in the Gaps, because I had just published it on the Friday before. MSgt Harwell, stopped by after Step II had a good rehearsal and purchased the books. I had the distinct opportunity to pray for my brother in Christ and I pray that he finds joy and contentment as he moves on in life.

I’m looking forward to seeing you all next year at competitions around the country and then in Daytona!

National High School Drill Team Championships, exhibition drill, fancy drill, freestyle drill, regulation drill, color guard, color team, john jay high school, afjrotc, njrotc, mcjtrotc, ajrotc, drill competition, drill meet

DrillMaster at Daytona

The first day of competition is finished for The National High School Drill Team Championships 2012 and all is going very well- at least outside the Ocean Center. After spending about 10 hours outside at the Ocean Walk and getting a great farmer’s tan, I talked with dozens of cadets and I found out:

  1. The DrillMaster Driller’s Bayonet is a hit and I could have sold several had they been in production
  2. The DrillMaster 14 is a huge hit and I could have sold them as well!

I was able to explain what was happening and direct people to the Ocean Center for the competition. I talked with a woman who used to march color guard in a Massachusetts drum corps man years ago who was amazed at the weight of the rifles. I was also asked to critique two solos and three tandems. I worked with some great Drillers and helped them see their routine from a different perspective and had such fun meeting all kinds of people from across the US! And then there was the “gentleman” who sidled up beside my table wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the image of an eagle that said, “Proud to be American,” and said, “Hitler Youth Weekend, huh?” I gave him a perplexed look and turned around to continue watching the team that was practicing (Step II). As he chuckled to himself, I looked at him and told him, “No, this is the Junior ROTC National…” at which point he interrupted me and said as he childishly departed, “Same thing.”

The perception of (J)ROTC may, in some minds, have parallels to Adolf Hitler’s program for indoctrinating youth into the WWII Nazi culture of brainwashing young minds into believing the state is God. While this is not the case of any American cadet program (JROTC, CAP, Young Marines, etc.), even if one does have this type of inept mentality, one needs to look past their prejudices and appreciate the time and effort the cadets put into drill. Period.

Hard work, discipline, leadership, followership, teamwork, the list goes on and on of the positive life skills cadets can learn through JROTC. On top of all of that, American Drillers put in hundreds of hours of planning and practice into their routines. Some cadets even learn their drill team’s routine, the color guard’s routine and then they work on their solo routine and maybe even a tandem routine! Many cadets go the extra mile as evidenced at every drill competition across the USA. The inability of a small group of people to recognize this should be treated as insignificant to America’s Drillers.

God bless America and God bless America’s Drillers of all ages.