Alumni Spotlight: Sarah Connelly
What year(s) did you march in the Blue Knights?
Blue Knights Winter Brass 2007
Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps 2008-2010
Where did you attend high school?
Cherry Creek High School
Education beyond high school?
Bachelor’s of Music Education at the University of Colorado, Boulder
What is your current occupation?
Music Teacher at Doshisha Elementary in Kyoto, Japan.
Why did you choose to march with the Blue Knights?
I saw finals in 2004, which was my first year in high school marching band and was completely hooked. I saw Opus X and the Blue Knights Winter Brass when I participated in Winterguard that same year and thought I had never seen something as cool as that.
What is your favorite drum corps memory?
My favorite drum corps memory was my rookie year in 2008. We hadn’t had a laundry day in a long time and finally, in Murfreesboro Tennessee, we had laundry the night before the show. The next morning it was pouring rain, but the Murfreesboro show was only for Top 8 Corps, so we had to rehearse, despite the inclement weather. Our show was about rain that year and there was quite a lot of dancing and rolling around on the floor during the ballad. It was such a ridiculous situation that many members ended up putting mud on their faces like war paint and just leaning into how ironic it was that we had finally gotten to wash our clothes, only to have to throw some out because they had gotten so dirty, they were beyond saving.
How have the Blue Knights impacted your life?
Without Blue Knights I’m not sure where I would be, but I know I’m where I am because I chose to face my fears and audition. I became a teacher myself and helped Oregon Crusaders win the Open Class Championship in 2012, as well as break into the World Class scene in 2013. I was also able to march in the 2013 Presidential Inaugural Parade for President Obama. In 2015 I was given the opportunity to come out of retirement and tour Europe with Blue Devils International as well. The opportunities my first corps afforded me have brought me a lot of joy and fond memories.
Most of all, Blue Knights taught me to identify what I wanted in life and then to go out, work hard, and make it happen. Without Blue Knights, without the unique experiences it gave me of constantly being placed in unfamiliar situations and being required to adapt and react, without the familiarity with travel and constantly meeting new people, I don’t think I could have ever moved to Japan by myself. I didn’t speak the language and I knew no one. When people tell me that I was brave to do such a thing, I just think how my drum corps experiences trained me to be brave and also how grateful I am for that each and every day.
What are some the Blue Knights’ core values/principles that have resonated with you in life?
Whenever I have hardship in my life, I recall the Blue Knights corps song “I go on.” No matter what is going on in my life, I focus on just putting one foot in front of the other. There is nothing I cannot face, in part because when I struggle I remember I will go on to celebrate another day.
What advice would you tell someone considering trying out for the Blue Knights?
Be the best in whatever you do. Don’t wait to be prepared. Work harder than the 3-year vet standing next to you, the staff and your peers will notice. Those are the types of students I enjoy teaching most, those who fearlessly pursue music and art with precision and excellence. Do this but check your ego at the door. Be open to criticism, love it because it will make you better. At the end of the day, we’re all just a bunch of band nerds! (Advice I got from my favorite mellophone tech in my time at BK!)
How would you like to see other Blue Knight alumni get involved in the organization?
Do what you can, when you can. We all grow up and move away, but if you’re around, go volunteer at a camp. If you’re not around, find some other way to be involved, even if it’s just hosting a DCI Finals watch party at 2am half-way across the world!
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