• Marching to the same beat

    • By Nick Houser, The Chronicle-Telegram
    • May 15, 2004

    COLUMBUS — The pipeline of Ohio State drum majors from Lorain County was opened up again, and this time it made history. Eric Sommer, a 2000 graduate of Avon Lake High School, was selected to lead the band across the field this season during a ceremony Thursday at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

    His brother, Scott, held the same position in 1998. The selection marks the first time siblings have served as the drum major for the marching band in its 126-year history.

    " I'm ecstatic. It's what I've been hoping for so long and now that it's finally here I can't complain," Sommer said. "Especially since I get to join this fraternity of drum majors, and become the first brothers to hold the position."

    The first trip down the ramp into Ohio Stadium will be Sept. 4 against Cincinnati. The season opener will also be alumni band day, which means the brothers, will get to share the field.

    Including the Sommer brothers, five of the last six Buckeye drum majors have come from the county.

    Thursday's decision makes the end of a very long journey back into the ranks of band known for its hard work and dedication. He served as assistant drum major in 2001, but failed to be selected in the last two years.

    In January, he decided to give his dream of leading the band one last shot. At the beginning of winter classes, he started training Monday through Thursday, two hours a day, each week, with some additional training on the weekends. The regiment consisted of aerobics, stretching, lifting weights and playing basketball.

    He also sought the advice of someone who knows exactly what it takes to become the drum major, his brother. Starting in March, Sommer made the trip from Columbus to Akron every weekend for further training.

    " Basically I was very focused on my studies the last couple of years and I really didn't give it as much effort as it needed," he said. "So this year I realized this is my last chance and I don't go for and get it this time I would regret it for the rest of my life."

    When it counted the most, Sommer gave the best performance he could to take the job. During the second of the three-part try out, he completed a flawless individual routine and was the only of the four finalists not to drop the baton.

    During this portion of the audition, Sommer said it was important to let his personality shine, put on a show and entertain.

    The first part of the tryout consisted of the traditional ramp entrance at the Horseshoe, which includes the high leg kicks and a backbend at the 35-yard line. The final part of the routine consisted of five high baton tosses, during which he completed a cartwheel or a back handspring.