Cadets travel from all points for Spring Training in Johnstown, Pa.

Five weeks of daily rehearsals on tap as corps readies 'Toy Souldier'


This snapshot from CorpsData shows the multitude of places that Cadets will travel from for Spring Training this weekend. The average age of the corps is 20-years old and come August, 36 members will age out. Below, Cadets prepare to depart for Johnstown, Pa., from the Allentown office.

The 76th generation of Cadets are poised to have the summer of their lives! Music sectionals, drill sets, ensemble rehearsals, and more will start to consume their days in the beautiful lush setting of Western Pennsylvania as Spring Training unfolds. It’s during this time that 150 young adults will bond, work nearly 16-hours a day, and piece together their newest summer venture, ‘Toy Souldier.’ 

The colorguard musters at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown in Johnstown, Pa., first, arriving Saturday, two days earlier than the rest of the corps, as they make up for a condensed winter schedule. By Tuesday morning, the full corps will be assembled to start nearly five weeks of intense rehearsals and physical training. 

Extended a few days longer than in years past, Spring Training will prepare these performers mentally and physically to perform a show traditional of The Cadets – fast and demanding! null

This is the third year The Cadets return to Johnstown, Pa., for Spring Training. Located about 70 miles east of Pittsburgh, Johnstown offers the ideal rehearsal and housing set-up. The Cadets will be sleeping in dormitories at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown and using practice fields and facilities of both the university and the neighboring Richland School District. Add to that a community that is more than warm and welcoming, said Justin Heimbecker, Assistant Director of the Cadets.  

“Johnstown is about a three-hour drive from the corps’ headquarters in Allentown,” Heimbecker said. “Being that it’s our third year there, it’s much easier to plan the logistics of moving in nearly 200 members and staff.” 

The Cadets will leave Johnstown just once during Spring Training to return to their birthplace in Northern New Jersey for Memorial Day celebrations on May 30-31. On May 30 they will perform in An Evening with The Cadets at Pequannock Township High School in Pompton Plains, N.J. The following day, they will perform in three Memorial Day parades in the North Jersey area. 


Spring Training comes to a close in mid-June as the corps kicks off its Summer Tour, traveling first to Allentown, Pa., for their debut field performance on June 18. 

What Lies Immediately Ahead 

Getting everyone settled is priority one. Managing the pick up of 200 people from an airport two hours away, and other nearby bus and rail terminals takes tremendous planning, Heimbecker said. By Tuesday morning, the corps should be fully intact and hitting the field! 

“Once things fall into place and we develop a routine, the challenges we face include dealing with inclement weather and keeping the kids free of injury as the physical demands increase. We have been building up their strength and endurance during the winter, but as the rehearsals lengthen and the pace picks up, injuries can happen.” 

Another challenge for some Cadets comes with what still remains unfinished back at home. Nearly a dozen new members are high school seniors, many of which still have requirements they must meet to graduate. They will need to fit in the schoolwork that remains in their academic year, Heimbecker said.  

For new member Matt Ranier, the physical demands of Spring Training will be considerable, but the 20-year-old baritone player from Ponte Verda, Fla., wonders more about the mental stamina it will take to perform at his best in Johnstown, and throughout the summer. 

“It’s those days that I might not have it mentally together that I worry about,” Rainier said. “It’s at those times I will have to keep telling myself to keep a cool head and stay focused.” 

Looking Farther Out

When Spring Training is complete by mid-June, The Cadets will board their buses for a Summer Tour that has them performing in nearly 40 DCI events, some as far west as South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa and Colorado. This is the farthest west the Cadets have traveled since 2007 when the DCI World Championships were held in Pasadena, Calif.

View The Cadets Summer Tour Schedule

When the corps arrives in Indianapolis for DCI World Championships by mid-August, that’s when Ranier says he might actually be able to call himself a Cadet.

“Right now, I don’t feel like I can call myself a Cadet. Not until I complete Spring Training, actually put on the uniform and perform – and probably not until I finish that last show. I don’t think you can really call yourself a Cadet until you finish it all!” 

Follow The Cadets this summer through Cadets ALL ACCESS!

Through the camera of ALL ACCESS, you are field side at rehearsal, at warm-ups before the big show, and behind the scenes with the staff and members as they work to perfect another timeless Cadets’ production.

On their 13-week journey you’ll witness the corps grow as a family, experience with them the emotional highs and lows, and see what it’s really like to tour with a World-Class drum corps in their amazing 76th season! SUBSCRIBE TODAY!


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