Gruber knows the Buccaneers had an angel

This story was written for my Fundamentals of Journalism I class at Delaware County Community College.
(From left to right) Dan Wildonger, Jerry Ware, Jay Landis and Jimmy Gruber hold up their fifth consecutive World Champions banner. (Wendy Monhollan)

(From left to right) Dan Wildonger, Jerry Ware, Jay Landis and Jimmy Gruber hold up their fifth consecutive World Champions banner. (Wendy Monhollan)

It was a weekend no one would soon forget, including James C. Gruber, director of the Reading Buccaneers Drum & Bugle Corps.

This past 2009 season, the Buccaneers headed into championship weekend in Rochester, NY with an astounding 45 consecutive win streak that spanned across four seasons…and were just two wins shy of breaking the DCA record.

Gruber, however, knew the weekend’s competition would not be easy. Not only did they have to compete against 23 other corps, but they also had to cope with the loss of one of its own. The corps was informed Saturday morning of the sudden passing of third-year trumpet player Geoff Silver, 28, of Richmond, Va.

The corps pulled together and did the only thing they knew how to do: perform. After winning the preliminaries Saturday night, they put on a show that set or tied five different records during the championship performance Sunday night, including most consecutive victories and world championships and the highest championship score with 99.025 out of 100.

Gruber recently sat down to talk about the championship weekend and discuss what is in store for the corps for this upcoming season.

Question: What is the idea behind the corps staying at Medina High School instead of hotels like the other corps?

Answer: Ever since I joined the corps, the Buccaneers have always tried to rehearse away from the show site. Staying at Medina High School is keeping with tradition and this set up works for us.

Q: What did you think was going to happen to the corps after the passing of Geoff?

A: This was an unknown. However, the corps bonded together and the entire situation seemed to make us stronger.

Q: Was there ever any thought given to withdrawing the corps after the news?

The Reading Buccaneers payed tribute to Geoff Silver by placing his uniform and trumpet on the field during the show and retreat. (Wendy Monhollan)

The Reading Buccaneers payed tribute to Geoff Silver by placing his uniform and trumpet on the field during the show and retreat. (Wendy Monhollan)

A: There was no thought given to withdrawing the corps from competition.

Q: Did the corps handle the situation better than you anticipated, especially Saturday’s practice?

A: The corps handled the situation just the way Geoff would have wanted us to.

Q: What did you think when you heard or saw other corps wearing black ribbons on their uniforms in honor of Geoff and the Buccaneers?

A: Class show by the other organizations was phenomenal.

Q: What was your initial reaction when the score was announced, especially after everything the corps had been through in those two long days?

A: This one was for Geoff.

Q: 99.025. How does that feel knowing that no other corps has ever scored that high?

A: I am very proud of what we have accomplished.

Q: Was this the best finals performance you have ever seen the Buccaneer perform in your tenure as Corps Director?

A: Without a doubt.

Q: Five consecutive undefeated World Championships. What is the “secret” behind the corps’ success?

A: Everything. The administration, instructional staff, marching members, our alumni organization and fan support.

Q: How does it feel knowing the corps has accomplished so much after it had almost folded a few years ago?

A: I would say to everyone, “Job well done.” The turnaround the organization has shown is fantastic.

Q: With all these records and championships, what is next for the corps?

A: Continued success. Keep functioning the way we always have.

Q: How do you know top this next season?

The Reading Buccaneers form a cross on the field as part of their 2009 production, "Demons & Angels." (Wendy Monhollan)

The Reading Buccaneers form a cross on the field as part of their 2009 production, “Demons & Angels.” (Wendy Monhollan)

A: Starting Membership Day 2010. We step up our game in the winter months.

Q: Is the pressure really on this year to come up with an even better production?

A: Pressure has been here at the beginning of every season to further the performance and the organization.

Q: How much work and time is put into the process of coming up with a show and what is involved in it?

A: You can’t really put a time measurement on all of this. The show continues to evolve from the moment of the initial concept until the final person leaves the field finals night.

Q: How do you feel about critics saying the Buccaneers organization are turning the circuit into Drum Corps International?

A: It is just that. Critic opinion. We aren’t going to change the way we do things based on critic opinion.

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Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Drum & Bugle Corps

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