• OSU Drum Major Twirls his way to the top

    Adam Prescott will lead the band onto the Ohio Stadium field for football halftime shows and will be featured at each game with a solo routine.

    • By Andy Netzel, The Columbus Dispatch
    • May 16, 2001

    There is a permanent bare spot on the front lawn of the Prescotts' home in Elyria.

    " Every time I go home for the weekend I have to wear it in some more to make sure it doesn't go away," Adam Prescott said. Prescott made that spot while perfecting his twirling routine and practicing the high kicking of the Ohio State University marching band. The practice, he said, is what it takes to win.

    Prescott beat out six other people competing at an OSU practice field yesterday afternoon for the position of drum major of next school year's OSU marching band. In that capacity, he will lead the band onto the Ohio Stadium field for football halftime shows and will be featured at each game with a solo twirling routine. OSU band director Jon Woods said the job is critical to the success of an Ohio State halftime show.

    " You have 90,000 to 100,000 people focused on the drum major," he said. "Their role is very important to the overall quality of their shows." Prescott, who was assistant drum major this year, said the pressure is considerably less in Ohio Stadium than during tryouts on the small practice field.

    " It's a different kind of pressure," he said. "In tryouts, one mistake can ruin the whole year's worth of work."

    Woods said each of the three parts of the tryout tells the 24 judges something different. The feature twirling routine, which contestants spend up to a year choreographing, allows the students to put their personality into the event. Prescott began his routine by holding out his baton for the crowd to take a look, then fanned his hand over it a la Wheel of Fortune's Vanna White. After a difficult move, he nodded with his mouth slightly ajar and his eyes wide.

    " You've got to use the baton as an extension of your personality," said Prescott, a sophomore pre- law major. "You're basically talking to the audience without being able to speak to them."

    Prescott's mother, Etta, said that being a drum major is about being not a good baton twirler, but a good leader. In fact, she said her son didn't show an interest in twirling until he was in high school. She and her husband, William, watched their son compete yesterday. Though most of the 100 or so people who gathered to watch the tryouts were current or former band members, other OSU students said the drum major's message does present itself at football games.

    " You don't get to see it (the halftime show) on TV, but to us students it's something really special, powerful," said OSU sophomore Luke Whitworth. And though twirling might look like a low-impact activity, Eric Sommer, who was named the assistant drum major yesterday, said making it look easy is part of the job.

    " One of the most important parts of training is building up your pain tolerance," he said. "You work on turning your hands into calluses to keep away the blisters."

    Prescott held out his hand and pointed to a blood blister on the tip of his ring finger. Another layer of skin had grown over the blister.

    " It's like slamming your hand in a car door," he said. "But you get used to it."