• This Family doesn't miss a beat

    • By Tare York Ellis, Morning Journal
    • May 15, 2004

    AVON LAKE -- Eric Sommer of Avon Lake has followed in his older brother's footsteps -- and cartwheels and back-flips.

    Eric, 22, a fourth-year aviation engineering major at The Ohio State University, was selected Thursday night as the next drum major for ''The Best Band in the Land.'' Now, he and his brother have the distinction of being the only two brothers to hold the coveted position, their father, Ron Sommer said.

    His brother, Scott, now a teacher, was drum major there in the 1998 season.

    ''It's just kind of amazing that two kids from the same family have the privilege to do this,'' Eric said. ''This is the first time in Ohio State history. My parents are so proud.''

    Last year, Sommer was assistant drum major for the marching band.

    Next fall, Eric will be the one to bring the entire band to attention, start the cadence and stop the band, he said. He'll also make appearances for alumni events and at Columbus schools.

    When Eric tried out Thursday night, his father and mother, Marilyn Sommer, were nearby, but not watching, Ron said.

    ''We didn't want to add to the pressure,'' he said.

    Big-time pressure is certainly what Eric was up against.

    Eric said before tryouts, he felt something different than before.

    'I felt different from years past, because I felt more confident,'' Eric said yesterday. ''I felt more ready.''

    During his routine, Eric tossed the baton about 70 yards in the air, did cartwheels and back-flips, and a move called the ''ground bounce,'' making the baton come back to him, after ''putting a rotation on it,'' he said.

    Ron was overwhelmed with pride when he heard the good news, he said.

    ''They said he did an almost flawless routine,'' he said. ''He did an excellent job. It's quite an accomplishment.''

    For the past few years, there has been a rivalry between Elyria and Avon Lake drum majors at Ohio State.

    Adam Prescott of Elyria was the drum major in 2001 and 2002. Before that, another Elyrian, Matthew Bally, was ''the man out front'' for two years in a row, 1999 and 2000.

    ''It's competitive, because we're the only two schools that have that style and that amount of dedication to what it is and what it stands for,'' Eric said.

    The Sommers attend as many Ohio State games as they can, Ron said.

    ''It's awesome to go there,'' he said. ''It's quite a Saturday afternoon thing.''

    Seeing his sons leading the band has been a thrill, he said.

    ''I'm very proud to see my son come out in front, bend over backwards and touch the plume of his hat to the ground,'' he said. ''There's no prouder feeling.''

    Last year, when Eric faced the disappointment of trying out and not making it, his father was supportive.

    He told his son, ''You did your best and it just didn't work.''

    ''We knew he just had to work harder,'' Ron said.

    Scott helped his younger brother work on his routine, Ron said.

    The hard work has finally paid off.