Tattoo You! Cadets share the skinny on their ink

Design, placement, and symbolism take precedent

broussard tattoo 

Nic Broussard shows his Cadets'-related ink. In order below, Becky Russ, Scott Sepolio, Allison Watkins, Ashley Pittman, Bradley Bower and Dan Regan, show off their permanent artwork and affection for the corps.

You catch a glimpse at the most unsuspecting times. A Garfield ‘G’ on a shoulder. Holy Name artistically scripted across a back. Chevrons strategically placed on a forearm. For many Cadets, permanently adorning their skin with emblems and words symbolic to the corps has become a growing trend.  russ tattoo

The more creative the tattoo, the better! 

Take Nic Broussard, a 2008-2009 mellophone player and Becky Russ, a member of the tuba section in 2006 and 2008-2010. The inspiration for their Cadets’ ink came from what all members hold most sacred – the uniform.  

“It felt so incredible to wear it over the summer that I wanted my tattoos to mimic parts of the uniform, namely the Holy Name patch, a knot from the front of the jacket, and the safety pin,” Broussard, 22, said. “We used a safety pin to secure our cummerbunds so that it stays in place during performances…I really like the idea of being ‘pinned in’ forever.” 

Russ wanted her third tattoo to remind her of the Cadets’ uniform and be something she could wear forever. With the help of her tattoo artist, a design was born and chevrons and ‘knots’ were carefully inked onto her left arm, exactly where the parts on the uniform jacket sit.  

“My knots are a reminder of everything I learned and pushed myself to do…that I am always a Cadet, to ‘always look good’ and a reminder that I can do anything,” said Russ. 

The meaning a Cadets-related tattoo has to its wearer is personal, said 20-year-old snare drummer Scott Sepolio. The Oak Ridge, Texas resident has an unusual treble clef in the center of his back. Look a bit closer and you’ll see the well-known and loved Garfield ‘G’ within the design. 

“My love for music coupled with the fact that I’ve dreamed of being a Cadet since I saw them in 2000” was the inspiration behind the design, said Sepolio. 

Allison Watkins, who marched as a mellophone player from 2006-2010, looked to fold two very important aspects of her life together – The Cadets and her relationship with God. 

“I chose to focus on the fact that The Cadets were founded by the Holy Name Church. God is the foundation and love of my life and the cross has significance to both because of my relationship to Him and because of my love and devotion to The Cadets,” Watkins said. 

Entering her seventh year as a Cadet in 2011, Ashley Pittman of Bluffton, S.C., sought to include the two most important aspects of her life within her tattoo design – the corps and her family. 

“My sister and Dad actually drew up the design,” Pittman said. “It represents my support systems, my family and my summer family. It took several sketches and ideas to get the right one, and the artist did a wonderful job interpreting our vision.”  [object Object]

Placement on your body means everything. For Dan Regan, a Cadets euphonium player from 1998-2000 who now serves as an Aviation Electronics Technician in the US Navy, the letters FHNSAB had to sit directly over his heart. And for Bradley Bower, a member of The Cadets Front Ensemble from 2006-2009, the gothic-style letters saying ‘Holy Name’ were inked on his left shoulder, the very place where Cadets rest their hands on fellow members when singing the corps’s song prior to a performance. 

The idea was inspired by Cadets snare drummer Nick Saputo who tragically lost his life in a car accident. 

“He was a percussion instructor of mine. He had a similar tattoo and he helped prod me into auditioning in 2006,” Bower said. 

It hasn’t been unheard of for entire sections to get matching tattoos. The Quads of Bergen County, as they are affectionately called, in 2008 got matching tattoos on their calves before moving in for Spring Training. 

Do these displays of devotion bring some parental grief? For the most part, Dads think it’s pretty cool, but Moms take a little time warming up to it all, said several Cadets.  

“My parents were generally kind of opposed to the idea of girls getting tattoos, but because of the location and the meaning behind my tattoo, they were very supportive,” said Watkins. “My Mom event joked about getting a Troopers or Phantom Regiment tattoo since she marched there back in the 70s. She would never actually do it though!” 

As for regret later in life – that’s the chance you take, said one Cadet. But making sure the one you get will forever represent who you are means the most. That and strategic placement. 

“As long as you are willing to take the time and pick something that means a great deal to you,” Broussard said. “It really does become a part of who you are and you will love it more and more every day.” 

Do you have a Cadets-related tattoo? Send us a photo along with your name, instrument played and years marched and we’ll add it to our photo gallery of Cadets-tattoos! Email Caryn Goebel at



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