• Competition, weather hot as OSU drum major tapped

    An Avon Lake, Ohio, junior-to-be got the nod, winning out over his roommate and two others.

    • By Robert Albrecht, The Columbus Dispatch
    • May 1998

    When the competition began yesterday in wilting 90-degree hear, there were four candidates for the post of drum major with the Ohio State University marching band.

    An hour and a half later, campus roommates Scott Sommer and Matt Bally were left staring at each other from the top of the heap of what OSU calls the Best Damn Band in the Land.

    Eventually, Sommer, assistant drum major for the past two years, was selected as the 49th drum major. He will take his place at the front of the huge musical assembly this fall.

    The 19-year-old will be a junior, majoring in music education.

    Bally, Sommer’s roommate in Haverfield House on the north campus, will take Sommer’s old post as the band’s No. 2 man.

    After the heated competition, they clasped shoulders for photographers and spoke certainly of continuing as roommates.

    And Bally, 18, glancing down at the 10-week-old scar on his right kneecap, made it plain that the competition is over only for the time being.

    He wants a shot again next year. “ I’ll be here, don’t worry,” he said.

    A spill during an intramural basketball game required surgery on his knee, he said. Though he didn’t’ make much of his injury, his parents – Sherry and Jack Bally – said it may have affected his performance.

    Band rules allow for two school-year terms as drum major; the upcoming year will be Sommer’s first.

    Born in Enid, Okla., Sommer’s family moved to Avon Lake, Ohio in 197. He served as drum major for two years at Avon Lake High School.

    Bally also is a northern Ohioan. The business major was born in Elyria and was drum major for two years at Elyria High School, the same schools that produced Cory Thompson, last year’s OSU drum major.

    Last night, the two were back in their room, crowded by happy relatives who watched videotapes of their performances.

    “We want the one who does best,” Sommer said.

    The two men had competition from Gossard, a nursing major from Lima, Ohio who was making her second attempt at the drum major’s post, and Suzanne Winters, a freshman majoring in physical therapy from Steubenville, Ohio.