Daniel Hayes, 19, 2007 graduate of Northview High School, is in his "rookie season" with the Concord Blue Devils, the largest Drum and Bugle Corps in the country. The Blue Devils are based out of Concord, Calif.
This marks the second role in a professional corps for Hayes, who previously worked with the Cadets, based out of New Jersey. After a negative experience with that organization, Hayes said he is happy to be where he is now.
"(The Cadets) was too high intensity," Hayes said. "We never got any time off. (Blue Devils) is intense as well, but you get time off if you do good work."
After months of auditions, Hayes, a trumpet player, moved into an apartment with more than a dozen other of the organization's performers, saying they were forced to "live like refugees."
Hayes said the tight living quarters, mixed with strenuous workdays are all part of the process.
"This is the highest level of marching arts," Hayes said. "It's the game you have to play."
Bob Medworth, Hayes' high school band instructor, said he saw good things from him during his high school days, and is proud of what he's accomplished.
"Daniel was a very good student who was active in all parts of our program," Medworth said. "(Being accepted into the Blue Devils) is quite an accomplishment."
Indeed it is. The Blue Devil organization, founded in 1957, travels all over the country while attempting to "develop personal character through challenging physical, emotional, mental and social activities while promoting the values of dedication, hard work and commitment to a team effort."
The group has won hundreds of awards since its inception.
Hayes said the most grueling and rewarding part of being involved with the corps was the same thing: Traveling. He said some of the tougher moments involve having to spend all day rehearsing, getting on a bus and having to pull into high school gymnasiums, where he and his fellow performers catch a limited amount of sleep huddled up in sleeping bags before getting up to repeat the same routine.
However, in the same sentence, Hayes also praised the rough travel as the best part of being involved with such a large-scale corps as it opened various opportunities for he and his peers.
"You get to see all different parts of the country," Hayes said on his way to a performance at Mile High Stadium in Denver, Colo. "And it's fun for all of us getting to do what we do."
For all the personal accomplishments the corps has brought him as a musician, Hayes, who has been playing the trumpet for 10 years, said such a whirlwind work schedule has helped him become better prepared to handle all aspects of life he may face in the future.
"Anyone who does this is gong to develop a great work ethic," Hayes said. "It has really taught me to strive for perfection in everything I do."
The Concord Blue Devils will be touring the country right up until a performance at the Drum Corps International Championships at Lucas Oil Stadium Aug. 6-8.
For more information, visit bluedevils.org, or to learn more about drum corps, log on to dci.org.