Kathryn Mitchell: 2003

Kathryn Mitchell OSU Drum MajorDrum Major tryouts the spring following the National Championship season was an exciting time for all Buckeyes and marching band members who were still living off the celebration high of “that last game”. In an exiting competition against five great candidates, Kathryn Mitchell obtained the position of Drum Major and joined Shelley Graf as the second female to enter the Drum Major “fraternity”.

Mitchell, a Columbus native had grown up cheering for the Buckeyes and going to football games with her father for as long as she could remember. She loved the energy and excitement that existed on Saturdays in the fall.

One Football Saturday, when Mitchell was 15-years-old, she attended her first Skull Session to watch the marching band perform. The performance left her awe-struck. When Drum Major, Karl Neudorfer, began to spin the baton and toss it high into the air, Mitchell was impressed.

"Although I had seen the band before on the field, it was the first time I had ever seen the Drum Major up-close. The marching band, combined with the Drum Major -- it was the most amazing performance, and something I never forgot. It really is The Best Damn Band In The Land. For the next two years I went to as many games and Skull Sessions as I could to see the band and the Drum Major perform."

“The following spring my high school band director, John Stahl, who was an OSUMB Alumni introduced me to Shelley Graf. Shelley taught me my first Drum Major lesson.” The next three years Mitchell held the position as Drum Major for Centennial High School's marching band. “Learning to be Drum Major was one of the best experiences in my life."

During the summers Mitchell attended many summer sessions. “Shelley Graf, Scott Sommer and Greg Eyer instructed me on twirling and strutting, their willingness to help me and invest their time made a huge impact on my life. I always will value their guidance and friendship.” In Mitchell’s senior year she made the decision to take on the challenge of becoming Drum Major for the OSUMB.

“When I arrived to OSU, I realized that even though I had come along way in training to becom Drum Major, I was going to have to work harder than ever if I was going to have a chance.”

“My first tryout was in 2000, I did better than anyone expected me too, but it was still about 50 miles away from the great performances of Matt Bally, Scott Sommer and Adam Prescott. The following year I tried out again, I felt confident and that I had grown over the year and was good enough to earn a spot. But my performance showed – I was not ready. Afterwards, I felt I had failed myself when I lost at tryouts and feared that the sense of failure would stick with me for the rest of my life.”

The following year Mitchell took the example of Adam Prescott’s workout discipline and tried to match his 3 to 4 hour-a-day practice schedule. “I ran, I lifted weights, I watched videos of Drum Majors and studied the movements and presence and every intricate detail I could about the OSU Drum Major. I dedicated myself to practicing strutting and twirling every night in the winter and spring. Although Adam was a competitor, his example really pushed me to work harder and exceed my potential. Greg Eyer and Dale Wagner also helped me understand what the essence being the OSU Drum Major meant and how to work towards accomplishing that goal.” That spring Mitchell was named Assistant Drum Major for the 2002 season and the following year she became the Head Drum Major.

“Like mostly all the other Drum Majors, I will never forget my “first game”. It was the first game in the ‘Shoe’ against Washington since the National Championship. Almost 900 OSUMB Alumni were there. During the morning practice, I felt the burden to live up to all the great Drum Majors before me, many of whom where standing on the sidelines of the newly built marching band practice field watching my every move.

“The thing I will remember most about my experience as Drum Major was the joy I felt whenever we were performing. Through the marching band I was able to bring excitement and happiness and touch people’s lives all over Ohio. I was able to represent a unique and amazing group of people whose excellence I strongly believed in and who I had spent many years looking up to and respecting. The hard work and the obstacles I faced throughout my time as Drum Major will always have been worth it.”