Great TOC finale in the New Meadowlands Stadium, and an exposť on showers

Angel and Demon Diary: Cadets daily updates from the road

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The Cadets had a great day of rehearsal in the New Meadowlands Stadium again yesterday. Security was tight, as is expected at such a large stadium, but the facility was well worth the extra trouble.The New Meadowlands is currently the most expensive sports stadium ever built, at a cost of $1.6 billion.

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The corps finished rehearsal long before they actually performed, and rain delayed the show even further. The weather again allowed The Cadets to perform last night, and they were even better than in Allentown. Unfortunately, the mass encore was cancelled due to the rain delay, but the New Meadowlands Stadium was a fantastic end to a great year of Tour of Champions shows.

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The Cadets pulled ahead by just 0.15 – a great confidence boost going into finals week.

Unfortunately, The Cadets faced more transportation troubles on their way to Pennsylvania last night. When the convoy reached the rest stop in the middle of the night, the guard bus was a half hour behind on the side of the road. Yet another break-down. George Hopkins got on the drum bus and told sleepy Cadets that they had to unload.

All the drummers (and the horn players who ride the drum bus) unloaded their luggage and reloaded it in the aisle of the food truck. Then they squeezed into every available seat and aisle of the other vehicles in the convoy, including George’s space in the design/admin bus. The drum bus headed back to pick up the color guard and their luggage, and they arrived at the school this morning about an hour and a half after everyone else.

“They just needed a new power steering pump on the bus,” said Transportation Director Jay Travis. “Nothing is easy, but at least it’s a business day and we’re near a major interstate. There’s gotta be one in driving distance somehow,” he said.

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And now for something different. In honor of the rehearsal at the New Meadowlands yesterday, here’s an exposé on showers:

When rehearsal is essentially the same every day, the variables make or break a day in the life of a Cadet. Things like how thick the grass is, how far away the equipment truck is parked from the buses/school/ensemble field, or whether the gym is air conditioned. Or how nice the showers are.

After a long, sweaty day in the sun or rain, all you want is a good shower. You find yourself daydreaming about it between reps. Counting down the hours to cleanliness. Here’s a bit of insight into our nation’s locker rooms.

It’s pretty much unanimous: Icy showers are the worst. One may think that a cold shower might be nice after rehearsing on 100-degree turf, but most showers are either warm or spitefully cold – there really are none at that fun, water park temperature. And when you’re used to the sun beating down on you for pretty much all of the hours that it’s in the sky, cold feels even colder. You can generally tell that it’s going to be an unpleasant locker room experience when you see the “Women’s Locker Room” sign and can already hear shrieking from the girls who got there first.

However, there is a rare phenomenon that’s worse than frigid waters: Malicious, boiling lava hot showers. This is just cruel. You hope and hope that the showers won’t be cold. “Are they hot?” you hopefully ask the person coming out of the locker room. Yes. And they will burn you. The locker room is instantly a sauna, and you assume that it can’t be that bad. You lean back timidly to get your hair wet, and a blazing flame of water seers your scalp. After you manage to wash, you jump in and out again to rinse off. Emotionally damaged from repeatedly burning your own flesh, you head back to the sauna, where you’re instantly as sweaty as before your shower. Ick.

And temperature isn’t everything. Showers lose points quickly if the water pressure isn’t what it needs to be. Some shower heads fan the water into an awkwardly wide, stinging cone. The pressure is too high, but in order to get enough water to rinse out your hair, you have to get painfully close to the nozzle. Picture turning a garden hose on full-blast, cupping your thumb over part of it, and shooting water at your friend six inches away. Ouch.

But in every locker room like that, there are inevitably some showers that don’t live up to their forceful counterparts, and their pressure is way too soft. It takes 60 seconds to rinse off one arm… how am I supposed to get a day’s worth of sweat and gel out of my hair?

In the categories of too powerful and too light, you also find many showers with a single stream of water, sometimes so intense that it feels like someone is trying to drill a hole into your skull, and sometimes so wimpy that it feels like you’re standing under a stream of pee (if this is the case, it’s almost better if they’re cold).

It’s worth noting that many schools don’t have freezing or scalding showers; they’re at least reasonably warm, and the pressure is alright. This is much appreciated, though locker rooms lose points for flooding, bugs, dirt, and cramming extra gym equipment into perfectly good shower stalls.

Push-button showers are also kind of frustrating. Instead of turning on with some sort of handle, these showers start with the push of a button and turn off based on a timer that must have been set by the fastest showerer in the history of the activity. About every 45 seconds, the water shuts off and you have to push the button again. It catches you off-guard every time, and you get momentarily offended that someone turned off the water in the middle of your shower. I get that we don’t want them to run for days, but I think ten minutes is reasonable.

Alright, enough complaining. This brings me to what Cadets have been referring to for years as “Box 5 Showers:” those rare, glorious showers that rain down in a warm fountain of clean. On tour, these are found few places other than Giants’ Stadium, and this year the New Meadowlands did not disappoint.

Designed for 6’5” linebackers, the water cascades down like a waterfall from the shower head eight feet high at whatever temperature you decide. (Speaking of height, this is another thing wrong with many locker rooms: they assume that all women are 5’2” or shorter.)

And this goes for locker rooms and home showers alike: It’s not about what the shower head looks like. Some schools have fancy shower heads that don’t work very well, and while the nozzles at Giants’ Stadium don’t look like much, they’re pretty amazing.

 “If I were to judge these showers on shower performance, I’d give them a perfect score,” said tuba section leader Sam Ambrose. “Plus, there are plenty of shower heads, so everyone gets to enjoy the perfect shower pleasure equally,” he said.

It truly is a privilege for The Cadets to experience rehearsal facilities like the New Meadowlands Stadium. But no matter the shower situation, The Cadets choose their attitudes and make do with the facilities they’re given.

The corps has a rehearsal day in Indiana, Pa. today, and they will travel to Ohio tonight.

 

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