• OSU’s Drum Major scores another win

    • By Kevin Kidder, The Columbus Dispatch
    • May 2000

    Chrome batons twirled through the air and the boom of the bass drum reverberated off concrete walls.

    On the sideline, Etta and Bill Prescott of Elyria, Ohio, watched nervously as their son, Adam, high-stepped across the field.

    Seven people tried out yesterday on Yasenoff Field inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center for the chance to lead the Ohio State University Marching Band as drum major – and it turned out to be a sweep by close friends from Elyria.

    OSU junior Matthew A. Bally of Elyria will be the 2000 drum major; assistant drum major will be his friend, Adam Prescott.

    The tryout wasn't so nerve-wracking for Bally: He was the 1999 drum major and he's already been through three tryouts.

    The routine was my strongest part," Bally said. "I had quite a lot of confidence."

    The competition was fierce, he said. "They were very good. I guess inexperience might have hurt some of those guys."

    Prescott credited his win to risky maneuvers – including numerous high tosses with the baton and a back flip.

    "The judges respected the fact that I tried a lot of new things," Prescott said. "They liked my showmanship."

    To compete, the seven had to go through three phases: a traditional ramp performance followed by a baton twirling routine and ending with five aerial tosses.

    About a dozen judges rate the candidates based on their performances in the three phases.

    Freshman Kathryn Mitchell of the Northwest Side couldn't decide what was the toughest part of the tryout. But she knew one thing: "I was ready for this day."

    "I practiced every day for a year," she said. "All of it adds up, and it's all over in four seconds."

    Mitchell, who was drum major at Centennial High School, said she's ready to try again next year.

    A crowd including friends; family and many area high school drum majors gathered to watch.

    "We pretty much do the same stuff." said Matt Powers, 16 who is a drum major at West High School and came yesterday to watch the tryouts with his coach and friend. Powers said he plans to attend Ohio State University – and he wants to be drum major.

    "We came up here to learn," said David Gates, 27, his coach. "It helps to get a head start."

    Gates said the most important part of the tryout – and the job – is the pregame ramp entrance.

    "You have to watch where you're going, and here it counts as 50 percent of their score," he said. As for why anyone would endure the grueling regimen of being Ohio State's drum major, Bally had the answer: "95,000 people. The experience coming out of that ramp. That's where it's at!"