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The national drum corps scene had a decided New England flair this past season in that several participants in several top corps have Massachusetts roots.

Amy Grelle, daughter of Frank and Elaine Grelle, is a 20-year-old Senior at Merrimac College, majoring in psychology, and she is a National Champion, having captured the title this past season while marching with the Phantom Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps, who tied the Blue Devils in Orlando at the D.C.I. World Games.

Amy Grelle on tour in 1996

Amy Grelle on tour in 1996

She started her marching career with the Methuen High School Band, then spent a year with the Nashua, New Hampshire Spartans, two seasons with St. Catherine’s Color Guard of Somerville, and two years with the Emerald Marquis Color Guard.
She decided to try out for Phantom because she had been told by a friend that they “really treat their kids well.”

She recently received a letter thanking her for choosing Phantom. A championship ring will be here shortly.

Her parents started their marching careers in the Holy Trinity White Eagles of Lawrence in the early 1960s and later joined the Beverly Cardinals. Upon graduation, they both joined the Cardinals” instructional staff. Frank Grelle spent the past two years as a percussion instructor with the Boston Crusaders and has taught many corps and bands in the area.

Amy was joined at Phantom by two girls from Connecticut and Blessed Sacrament Color Guard of Cambridge, Karen Holamar, a student at Berklee, and Sue Broadbent.

Another New England touch was provided by an Arlington, Massachusetts firm, Hard Corps, which designed and provided Phantom’s world class tee shirts. Hard Corps is owned and operated by North Star alumni Gerry Cronin and Paul Shannon.

The national co-champion Concord Blue Devils also had a strong New England influence with Jay Murphy, former St. Mary’s Beverly member and Boston Crusaders instructor, serving as principal drill designer.

T.J. Doucette, former North Star, Blueverie and Reverie, was also a member of the Devils’ visual staff. Likewise representing Blue Devils were several color guard members from the Boston area, as well as Joe Fussell, formerly with the Spartans, and Rod Strain, formerly of Charisma and last year with Emerald Marquis.

The Cadets once again were represented by University of Massachusetts students. Their staff had a decided Massachusetts tint, led by percussion caption head Tom Aungst (Dartmouth High) and assistant Neil Larrivee (King Philip High).

Massachusetts and other parts of New England continue to assert their influence on the national scene. This year several area residents were able to enjoy the fruits of years of labor.