An Interview with Tom Volk about the New Equipment Trailer Project
Oct 30, 2014 12:51 PM (Submitted by: Brad Furlano)

The new equipment trailer project is one of the largest single projects the Blue Stars have ever tackled from a time, volunteer, and financial standpoint. It will be an "all-hands-on-deck" endeavor to have the trailer ready to roll for the start of the 2015 season.

The success of a big project like this can hinge on the involvement of an angel donor; someone to inspire others to join them in support of the project and the corps. We couldn't be happier to have Tom Volk in the lead on the trailer project, as he is one of the kindest, most generous folks involved in the Blue Stars. He is one of our stalwart volunteers and the current Co-Blue Star of the Year. His smiling face can often be found stirring up a batch of Gatorade or serving hungry members on the food line on the road.

Tom has stepped up in a big way to make the equipment trailer a reality and challenge others to join him in support of the project and the corps, with a $25,000 matching challenge. Tom will personally match your donation – dollar for dollar – to make the new equipment trailer a reality for the 2015 season.


Executive Director Brad Furlano recently had lunch with Tom to discuss the project and the Blue Stars. Here's what Tom had to say:

BF: Why is the equipment trailer project important to you?

TV: When you spend time on the road (42 days for me last season), you begin to see where the issues and inefficiencies intrude on the member experience. A drum-corps day is all about rigid adherence to a schedule and routine. Wake-up, eat, unload the truck, practice, eat, practice, load the truck, eat, go to the show site, unload the truck, perform, load the truck, eat, load, travel, sleep. Repeat.

The current equipment trailer situation simply doesn't allow efficient and timely loading or unloading of equipment. It was built for a corps with fewer members and less equipment. The corps has developed a process to make sure it all gets done, but there are still regular occurrences when front ensemble and other loading crew members have to cut short show preparation.

There is no way to speed the process on the current truck because of the jigsaw-puzzle way it must be loaded. So much equipment stored in the aisles creates a situation where different sections of the corps can only partially load before waiting on another section to finish, all while trying to eat, shower, pack, and prepare for a show. Sometimes we even have to wait to leave a show site because the truck is still being loaded.

I've had a chance to see the SCV and BD versions of this trailer in action in the parking lot after shows, and the differences are stark. Quick, efficient, and safe unloading and loading by all sections. More time for sleep. More time for rehearsal.

BF: You generously donate your time and money to support the Blue Stars. What is it about the corps that inspires you to give so freely?

TV: I never marched drum corps, but I was in a competitive VFW-type summer marching band in my home town and instructed there as well. I spent a total of 25 years with the Warren Jr. Military Band in Ohio. The Blue Stars remind me a lot of my time in the band and the experiences I had as a member: a strong sense of family and working towards common goals with hard work and determination. I see so much support for each other among the members. For example, at spring training I watched an age-out member run alongside to support and encourage a slower new member who was having a really rough time. The age-out was among the fastest, but he gave up his chance for bragging rights to help someone out. It's astonishing to watch the development of individuals and the group over the course of a season.

The Blue Stars have become my home. From the first day, since I was invited to march the Oktoberfest parade in 2008, I have felt welcomed and have made many, many friends through the corps along the way. The equipment trailer project is a chance for me to give back and make the Blue Stars' experience even better for the members.

The need for a new Blue Stars equipment truck is real, and the time is now to address the problem. I hope others that have marched, had children march, or simply have marveled at the accomplishments of the young adults in the Blue Stars will join me to make the new trailer a reality.

BF: What is it about the Blue Stars that makes you come back each year?

TV: I think the environment created at the Blue Stars and in drum corps in general is extraordinary in its capacity to provide a safe, supportive place for young adults to meet, work alongside, and socialize with people from different walks of life. In a world of divisions, drum corps is a beacon of unity. As a university professor, I am well-engaged with developing young people to realize their hopes and dreams by working hard. The Blue Stars are doing exactly the same thing in the interactions between members, staff, and volunteers. I think we can and should do anything we can to support and encourage that type of interaction and education among young adults.

Help the make the new Blue Stars Equipment Trailer a reality
Join Tom and the Blue Stars in support of the new equipment trailer project. We need your support to make it happen and get the new trailer on the road for the 2015 season. For more information, check out the FAQs about the equipment trailer build. Please support this project with your donation today!


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