Alumni Spotlight: Cliff Pfeifer
What year(s) did you march in the Blue Knights?
Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps (Front Ensemble): 1994
Blue Knights Percussion Ensemble (Tenors): 1994, 1995, 1996, and 1998
Where did you attend high school?
Arvada High School
Education beyond high school?
Bachelor of Arts in Music with Psychology Minor at University of Northern Colorado 1999.
What is your current occupation?
Business Owner at NetSense Media. We do website development and design, digital media
production, internet marketing and consulting.
Why did you choose to march with the Blue Knights?
I was a drummer kid who was really into marching band. One day at high school band practice, one of our instructors brought in a DCI finals video and I had never seen anything like that before. I was blown away by the musicianship, skill and precision. Watching the show concepts come to life and seeing the emotions on the performers faces was life changing. It was the coolest thing I’d ever seen and I remember thinking “I need to do this”, after that I was on a mission. It took a few years of trying to make it happen but I kept working at until I got the opportunity.
What is your favorite Blue Knights memory?
There are so many to choose from. I was on the 1994 Blue Knights Percussion Ensemble (Independent World) drum line, where we ended up being the very first WGI Indoor Percussion World Champions. Indoor percussion was a whole new thing and all the trips to Dayton back then were exciting and fun. The Blue Knights, the Rocky Mountain Percussion Association (RMPA) and so many great Colorado high school programs pioneered the activity in so many ways and I’m incredibly honored to be part of that history.
Of course, 1994 was also the first Trittico year and the music has since become a Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps classic. If I had to pick one memory from the drum corps, it would be finals night 1994 at Foxboro Stadium. The pit was huddled up waiting to push our gear onto the field and coming to terms with the reality that it was last time we’d ever get to play this music together. In that moment, I realized how much we had gone through together, good times and tough times, and how awesome we had become as a result of it all. I knew I would miss them and I would miss playing the beautiful music we worked so hard to perfect together. I love all of those people and there will always be a special place in my heart for them.
It was such a bittersweet moment, I was choking back tears all the way until the end of the
show. In fact, if you watch the official 1994 vid all the way to end, I got the final close up and you can see me trying very hard not to cry. I’ve been made fun of endlessly for that shot, I do look kind of funny but there are no words to describe what I was feeling at that moment. We left it all out there that night and I’ll never forget the electricity and emotions that went through me.
I’ve performed thousands of times since then and I’ve never experienced else anything like that. It was the show of a lifetime and the friendships, memories and experiences have lasted a lifetime as well.
How have the Blue Knights impacted your life?
Blue Knights had such a huge impact on my life it’s difficult to imagine what my life would be like if I hadn’t been a part of it. I didn’t truly grasp how valuable the experience was until I was older, but in hindsight Blue Knights really laid the groundwork for my future.
The work ethic and discipline which was ingrained into me during those years opened a lot of doors and paved the way for so many amazing experiences and successes in my life. You never know where life will take you next but the lessons I learned in Blue Knights have served me well – and still do to this very day. It’s truly a gift that keeps on giving.
What are some the Blue Knights’ core values/principles that have resonated with you in life?
A commitment to excellence and constantly striving towards improvement through dedication and persistence are cornerstone values in my life and my business. Responsibility and teamwork are also huge for me. In the Blue Knights the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts, and I believe that lesson is at the heart the organization. We’re all individuals with different talents and skills, and when we work together towards a common goal the results can be life changing. Everyone does their part to contribute to the success of the team, and it all matters because we’re all in the same boat at the end of the day. This type of experience is incredibly valuable in a workplace setting.
A classic Blue Knights lesson which had a very profound impact on my life is “leave every place better than you found it.” The concept is so simple yet so powerful. It shows how a small contribution as an individual can make a big difference, and also how positive actions help to build a positive reputations and impressions. It’s also about taking responsibility, not only for ourselves but for the group as a whole. Later in life I discovered this lesson is the heart of leadership values.
Doing what needs to be done simply because it needs to be done regardless of circumstances or situations is often the difference between a leader and a follower. Once you get into the real world you might find these attitudes and values are not as common
as they are in the drum corps world. As the old saying goes, there isn’t much traffic in the extra mile, and I’ve found this to be true.
In Blue Knights it’s all about going the extra mile and pushing yourself as far as you can to be the best that you possibly can. This gives you an edge later in life. I’ve found it’s very easy to stand out in a positive way simply by putting a little extra effort into everything I do. It applies to my business, my hobbies and my personal relationships. By setting a positive example, we make the world a better place for other people. When it’s all said and done I’d like to leave this world a better place than I found it – which may be easier said than done but I’ll never stop trying 🙂
What advice would you tell someone considering trying out for the Blue Knights
Never give up. Work as hard as you can, do everything you can to succeed and have faith that your efforts will pay off regardless of the outcome. It took me three years of auditioning for the drum corps drum line before I got a spot in the pit – which wasn’t exactly what I had hoped for, but I embraced the opportunity.
I didn’t give up, I gave it everything I had to give and when it was all said and done it was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. It gave me the depth as a musician that I needed to open the doors to college and everything that came after. Where we end up in life is not always where we’re trying to go, but we often end up exactly where we need to be. Regardless of how it turns out, any time you spend with the Blue Knights organization will be beneficial to you.
What are you looking forward to most about the 2018 Alumni Corps celebrating our programs’ 60th and 25th anniversaries?
I’m really looking forward to performing again. I figured my drum line days were over a long time ago and it’s something I’ve always missed. Not to mention we get to perform at our home stadium, which is an amazing opportunity and I’m very excited about it. I’m also looking forward to seeing a lot of old friends again, some of whom I haven’t seen in a very long time. I’m hoping to make some new friends as well, sharing Blue Knights stories and having a great time with all the people who made the Blue Knights what it is today. I hope this event becomes a new tradition within the Blue Knights organization.
How would you like to see other Blue Knight alumni get involved in the organization?
In any way they can. We all have our own lives and responsibilities to deal with these days, but we also have experiences and skills we’ve developed since which may be helpful to the organization. There are a lot of ways to get involved and there is always much to be done. I would encourage alumni to stay in the loop, or reach out to the organization. If you see something you can help with just help out however you can whenever you can. It all makes a difference.