• Senior second woman to lead marching band

    • By John May, The Lantern
    • Friday, May 9, 2003

    Kathryn Mitchell has been chosen as the new leader of the best damn band in the land.

    "This is always a very tough thing to decide on. These young people work so hard and spend hours in the gym practicing," said John Woods, director of the Ohio State Marching Band.

    Drum major tryouts were held yesterday at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. The band played in the background as each of the five competitors made their case for why they should be the new drum major. Family, friends and fans were on hand to watch the competition.

    Mitchell, a senior in journalism, is only the second woman to become drum major at OSU. She graduated from Centennial High School in Columbus, where she was drum major for three years.

    Shelley Graf was OSU's first drum major in 1981. Graf was also the first ever female drum major in the Big Ten conference.

    "I'm excited for her she is a great young lady, with a great personality and she will make me proud," Graf said.

    Mitchell was the assistant drum major during the 2002 season and served on the drum major squad for two years. Alex Neffenger was awarded the position of Assistant Drum Major for 2003.

    "The drum major is more than a performer. He or she is also a leader; the drum major is leading the band into war on the field. A good drum major can raise the level of a band," said Adam Prescott, OSU's drum major in the years 2001 and 2002.

    The judging panel is made up of 18 judges known as adjudicators. The adjudicators are a combination of band directors in the area, former band members, former drum majors, and the OSU Marching Band staff, Woods said.

    "Most of the work for tryouts is done before tryouts in the summer and winter before. Tryouts were just a day to come out and have fun," Prescott said.

    The tryouts were broken up into three different phases.

    The first item the competitors were judged on was the infamous ramp entrance. They were then judged on their performance routine, which is where the competitors show what they can do with the baton. The final phase of the competition was the high toss.

    A slippery turf made the competitors routine more difficult than expected.

    "I almost slipped during my ramp entrance, a slippery surface definitely makes things more difficult," said Tony Wang, a third year organic chemistry major competing in yesterday's drum major tryouts.

    The drum major has been a familiar figure on campus since 1978 when land grant schools, such as Illinois, Purdue, and Ohio State required a musical unit for military cadet parade days. The drum major's responsibility was to set the tempo of the percussion cadences as the troops passed in review for inspection on the Oval every Wednesday afternoon at 4 p.m.

    The duties of drum major have since changed, and new drum major traditions have been established. However, the position of drum major still maintains high standards and traditions at the Ohio State.

    "I am just stunned, this is the greatest honor, and I am very excited about next season," Mitchell said.

    Photo Credit: Zach Wittig, "Kathryn Mitchell, a journalism major, is the second-ever female drum major for the Ohio State University Marching Band."

    See this article online: The Lantern