• What's All the Bally-Hoo?

    Matthew holds onto OSU drum major title by holding off Lorain Co. competition

    • By Mike Sakal, The Chronicle-Telegram
    • May 2000

    COLUMBUS - Not only did Elyria High School graduate Matt Bally successfully defend his title Tuesday as the head drum major for the Ohio State University marching band, he also extended the country's streak of achieving the honor to four years.

    Bally was selected to lead the band after beating out six other competitors Tuesday at Ohio State University's Woody Hayes Athletic Center in front of a crowd of about 400 people.

    Four of the seven candidates, including second-place finisher Adam Prescott, were from Lorain County.

    "That area is a hotbed for drum majors," said Dr. Jon Woods, the university's band director:

    Woods attributed the wealth of drum majors from Lorain County high schools to those schools maintaining the old tradition of letting the head drum major both lead the band and 'put on a show'.

    Bally, a 1997 Elyria High School graduate and a junior majoring in business, said he was thrilled with his performance Tuesday.
    "Ecstatic!" Bally said when asked how he felt about winning. "My routine was strong. I had a lot of flexibility, presence and confidence al rolled into one. I didn't even think about Adam being from the same school. I just fought my best. You never know about these things because they always can go either way."

    Assistant drum major honors went to Prescott, a 1999 graduate of Elyria High School and a freshman majoring in philosophy and pre-law.

    He said Bally besting him was a matter of the teacher prevailing over the student.

    "Matt taught me everything from scratch when we were in the high school band," Prescott said. "I felt like my strutting was pretty good. I knew I had to take a lot of risks and have a big finish in my routine."

    Scott Sommer and John Zingale, who graduated from Avon Lake High School in 1996 and 1999 respectively, also competed for the head drum major spot.

    "This year, this was the closest competition we had in a long time. There are a lot of talented people here who have great potential," Woods said.

    During the 1997-98 school year, Sommer was the head drum major at Ohio State, and Bally was his assistant. Cory Thompson, a 1993 Elyria High School graduate, was the drum major at Ohio State during the 196-97 school year.

    The drum majors were judged by a panel of 20 judges on entrance, twirling routine, aerials and overall effect.

    When the Buckeyes host San Diego State in their football season opener Sept. 2 in Columbus Bally will lead a 200-member band and Prescott will be right behind him.

    Bally's and Prescott's winning performances marked the first time in 28 years that two drum majors from the same high school earned the top two positions in the band. Paul Zubrod and Rick Gammage of Walnut Ridge High School in East Columbus were the last ones to share that honor during the 1972-73 school year.

    Both Bally and Prescott were two-year drum majors for the Elyria High School band under director Doug Benford.

    Photocredit: By Steve Manheim

    Photo Caption: " Got It" Matthew Bally of Elyria gets a hug from his mom, Sherry, after defending his title as the head drum major for the Ohio State University marching band, Bally beat out six competitors, four of whom were from Lorain County. The second place finisher was Adam Prescott, also from Elyria.