Southern Regional Drumline Reaches Final Stage at World Championships

May 02, 2018
Courtesy of: Andrew Wright The Southern Regional drumline recently placed 11th at the WGI World Championships.

Despite the instruments and gear strewn throughout the huge space, the Southern Regional band room’s most eye-catching features are along the tops of the walls, where hundreds of trophies of all shapes, colors and sizes sit atop blocks of lockers and cabinets. In fact, it’s hard to imagine there might be space for another one.

Well, you can bet instructor Andrew Wright will make a space for the latest addition to that seemingly never-ending plethora of hardware.

“We received a plaque for being 11th, but it’s one of the best pieces of hardware we’ve brought home with us,” said Wright, whose Rams drumline recently placed among the top 12 at the Winter Guard International World Championships in Dayton, Ohio. “It takes a lot to get me really excited about something, but I was over the moon for these kids. For the announcers to call 15th,then 14th, 13th, 12th, and then finally get to us at 11th, that was the cherry on top.”

Considering Southern had not gone past the drumline semifinals during its previous two trips to Dayton in 2008 and 2015, just reaching the finals was a big deal. But the Rams were there – two weeks after the Southern Winter Guard placed 15th in Dayton after performing its show, “Table for One,” in the finals – to deliver one last performance of “Seasons Always Change,” among the best of the best.

“I grew up watching these great drumline teams on YouTube, performing in this big venue,” said senior Owen LaRocca, the team’s electronics and lighting guy. “So to be alongside some of the very best in the finals, it was a wow moment for me. It was almost too good to be true. It was amazing.”

Competing against 64 other teams, Southern made it through the preliminary round, and “that’s when things got really serious because we wanted to make Southern history,” said senior Stephen Skokan, the crew’s center snare.

“It was a huge adrenaline rush,” he said. “In the semifinals, we were really focused on doing everything right, being clean with everything. Once we made the finals, we just let loose and had a lot of fun. Everybody was relaxed, and we enjoyed every moment.”

For nearly five minutes, the Rams moved fluidly along the arena floor, delivering an easy-going program amid a cool, rhythmic tune, with nice cymbal and bass drum usage among the snares. Their program scored an 87.513, which landed them just in front of Pearl High School, from just outside of Jackson, Miss.

“At that point, I got a really big sense of appreciation for the quality of our program,” LaRocca said. “When you go there, you’re only guaranteed one performance, so it felt amazing to be in that final. We were really happy to be able to do that show one more time.”

Even though he and a bunch of others will be graduating soon, he was glad to be a part of the squad that has set the bar higher for future generations of Southern percussionists.

“To be there, in the world center of drumming, was quite amazing,” Skokan said. “Being among the top 12 for our first time in the finals was really exciting. It was a great way to end the year, and it will be really exciting to see what comes of this and how it grows from here.”

Wright, who advises the drumline alongside Brian Majoros, described this year’s experience as “surreal,” but the work already has begun to take the drumline back to Dayton next year.

“It’s always been fun, educational and inspiring, but going to the finals was something really special,” he said. “But now we know we belong at that level. We can tell the kids, ‘This is where you are now.’ In Dayton, you’re not up against 10 to 15 high-quality groups; you’re up against 60 super-quality groups. And now we can see our group as a perennial finalist.”

In addition to LaRocca and Skokan, the rest of the Southern drumline includes Luke Adair, Cooper and Jimmy Asaro, Delaney Brennan, Greg Carpitella, Jonathan Chirdon, Abbey Constantino, Anthony Daleo, Lucas Haberstroh, Jonathan and Terry Hughes, Riley Kalsch, Nate Kwiatkowski, Bethany Martin, Joseph Massari, Evan McCaffrey, Billy Laughlin, Madison Medel, Nicholas Paco, David Peer, Brian Schanker, Abigail and Morgan Steichen, Lauren and Shelby Swensen, Christina and Steven Tussel, A.J. Verdi and Zachary Walz.

The 13-member winter guard consisted of Michelle Curley, Marcelle Fiorica, Emily Gioe, Emily Janson, Bridgette Laramee, Megan Lucas, Mackenzie Michel, Taytum O’Connor, Laura Randall, Alexis Rosko, Nicole Rotonde, Samantha Tussel and Reagan White.

Want to watch Southern’s drumline performance in the WGI World Championships? Check it out online at

— David Biggy

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