Eight-year vet looks forward to this weekend's audition

Says The Cadets camps are never forgotten

“At audition camp this weekend, you will get a real feel for what being a part of this maroon and gold family is all about,” said color guard co-captain Ashley Pittman.pittmancloseup

Pittman, 21, is "aging out" this season, and she’s been a Cadet for twice as long as most members. At just 12 years old, she started marching with Teal Sound Drum and Bugle Corps in 2003. She marched a second summer there in 2004, and then auditioned for The 2005 Cadets color guard at just 14.

While eight years of camps are sure to blend together, no one forgets the weekend they made The Cadets. “When I got to the first camp, everyone greeted me with such a positive vibe. I could tell it was going to be a fun weekend,” Pittman said.

But she also recalls struggling with choreography at her first Cadets camp. “When I was having trouble, one of the veteran members helped me perfect the phrase, and I felt a lot less nervous about the audition process.”

And as a 14-year-old auditioning for what would become a world championship color guard, she had plenty of nerves. “Auditioning for a drum corps can be a daunting experience,” she said. “Even if I had been 21 instead of 14, that color guard was mostly veterans, and they were all so talented. But it was a great year to be a rookie. I had the best people to learn from — staff and members — and I soaked up as much information as possible from them. I feel so lucky to have been a part of The 2005 Cadets. It was an incredible summer both on and off the field. I still use things I learned about leadership and logistics that summer.”

As a guard captain in The Cadets since 2009, Pittman seeks to carry on the tradition of reaching out to newcomers. “It just makes the whole experience a blast for veterans and for those experiencing The Cadets for the first time,” she said. “I cannot wait to pass down my knowledge to those who will become Cadets this season. That’s always one of my favorite parts about the summer. For those of you who are auditioning or thinking about auditioning, do it! A summer with The Cadets is an experience that you can only fully understand once you do it. You become excellent as a performer and as a person.”

Like pretty much all leaders in this corps, Pittman takes a positive, inclusive approach to encouraging excellence in her section. “I like to be a motivator,” she said. “You can always hear me during rehearsals keeping people pumped up and working towards perfecting the show. Summer days can be so long, so enthusiastically running back to sets and cheering every now and again keeps people going.”

Ashley Pittman says she’s excited about the possibilities that await The 2012 Cadets. “It’s going to feel awesome coming back as defending world champions, and I’m so excited to soak up my last summer as a Cadet and see how much I can progress one last time,” she said.pittmanonfield

Above all else, she wants The Cadets color guards to want to do well for themselves. “If everyone wants to be excellent, then the group will be excellent,” she said.

Pittman loves the diverse, close-knit group that is The CBCCG (Cadets of Bergen County color guard). “Not only are the talent and performance astounding, but this group has quite a sense of humor. I have never laughed so hard in my life! We love to have fun on and off the field, and I keep coming back to The Cadets because of the awesome people I have the pleasure of marching with,” she said.

From the young age of 14, Pittman says she always knew she would march all her eligible years in DCI. She says the faithful support from her parents, fellow Cadets and staff has made the hard work that much more rewarding.

“It’s such a great personal challenge to march all of your years of eligibility, especially if you have ten years,” she said. “Becoming a part of The Cadets helps you discover new levels of excellence you did not even know you could reach. I love this activity so much; I honestly don’t know how I’m going to age out. It has gone by way too fast.”

Pittman is from Bluffton, S.C. and is a junior at the College of Charleston pursuing a major in arts management and a minor in art history.


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