“Not for the Faint of Heart: My Journey to Manhood in the Santa Clara Vanguard” is the story of the strength of will required to be at the top of the marching activity. This strikingly honest, brutally authentic and intensely emotional story recounts the tale of Jeremy “Spike” Van Wert’s three seasons in the Santa Clara Vanguard Drum & Bugle Corps Tenor Line. The following excerpt comes from Chapter 20, “Peak Performance.”
As the show’s closer began, emotion filled my soul in the small scatter drill before we began marching facing backfield. As we marched backfield, I realized I was living a dream of which few get the chance.
All those dark moments in my life that had ever got me down disappeared from my memory, and the closer was like a baptism of new life. The energy of the Corps surrounded me, and all the negative feelings I had about the happenings of the past month fell away. It was as if at that moment, the entire world ceased to turn, and every creature, man and tree sang in complete harmony with the Vanguard.
The moment was pure goodness and light, and with this acknowledgment I breathed in heavily, attempting to avoid the inevitable. Marching toward the back of the field, my eyes began to fill with tears, and they streamed down my cheeks. “One more minute, Jeremy. Then you can cry. Pull it together!” I thought.
Turning to the front sideline, the crowd was already at its feet when we began marching toward it. I had never been so overcome with emotion that I cried while on the field playing.
As soon as we began playing the end of our show, the crowd screamed at the top of its lungs. Even though every member of the Corps was playing his or her heart out, the crowd was still as loud as we were. In the final company front we leaned back, and I was able to look to the top of the stadium where men, women and children had their hands in the air. They were jumping up and down with their mouths wide open, and in my heightened sense of awareness at that moment, I could hear the screams of every individual.