Blue Knights 2016: Another Strong, Record Setting Year 

Historical Scores

Editor’s Note:

Success in the Blue Knights organization can measured in many ways…primarily through the growth of the individual member, collectively as a team both on and off the field, and through the member’s continued success in life. Another fact of our activity is competitive success as measured through the lens of the judges and the DCI scoring system. Todd Eastis, Blue Knights promotional booth manager and longtime drum corps fan takes a fun look at “the numbers” for 2016.

DENVER, CO – A quick glance of the scores can only give you part of the picture. Let’s compare this season to overall scores back to 1988 and caption scores since 2003 to put this season in perspective.

This season was a strong one in a number of categories across all captions and a record setting year for growth. The last three years have been a great time to be a Blue Knight as they have been 3 of the highest scoring seasons in drum corps’ history since 1958.Figure 2

Although 2016 was not the highest scoring, it was the third year with the highest score of the season over 91 points, marking the longest stretch above 91 ever. The highest 10 scores since 1988 are in Figure 1. This excellent level of performance continued in the captions. General Effect had the 3rd highest score, with Visual being the 4th highest, and Music was the third highest.Figure 3

In these specific captions, some major victories emerged. The Blue Knights Color Guard had its second best season ever, scoring an 18.4, just .1 behind their highest score of 18.5 in 2007. Brass achieved its 3rd highest score with 18.4, just behind the 18.5 in 2015 and 18.8 in 2007. The last three years in General Effect are even more impressive when we look at the average score each judge in that caption gave, and the average. The judges at the Drum Corps International Finals average score for the Blue Knights was an 18.238, just behind 18.35 in 2015 and 18.375 in 2014. Even though the score is a hair below the last two years, the General effect spread,or standard deviation, was at its lowest since multiple 4 judges were implemented in 2009, meaning that all the general effect judges more closely agreed on the score than in any other season. A lower number in Figure 3 means that the judges had stronger agreement between them on the score.

These scores are a great indicator of the strength of program that the Blue Knights have become since 2014, but there is still more to this story. As many will remember, at the first show of the season, the Blue Knights scored 1.8 behind the Madison Scouts, but at Semi‐Finals, defeated them by 6.362. So how did this happen? By having the greatest improving season since at least 1988.screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-3-58-06-pm

Since the first show in Fresno, the Blue Knights improved a total of 29.175, which was .075 higher than the highest recorded increase of 29.1 in 1999. Plus, this season was eight days shorter and had one less show than the 1999 season.

The next closest season was a tie between 2014 and 2002, which saw increases of 26.45, which is 2.725 points less than this season. Each day of the season saw an average score growth of .595, which beat the record set last year of .529. Every show raised the Blue Knights’ score an average of 1.122, which fell just short of the record 1.25 in 1996 when they competed in 6 less shows.

Not only did this season rewrite the Blue Knights record books, the drum corps demonstrated how to improve. The Blue Knights led all of World Class drum corps at DCI Finals in an average score growth per day with .595, more than .017 over the next closest drum corps, Academy. In average increase per show, they fell just behind Blue Devils by only .153, with 1.122 to their 1.275. The complete breakdown is in Figure 4.

All in all, another strong season has come to a close. More strong scores across the board, with record setting improvement through the season. The Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps continues to be a strong ensemble from top-to-bottom. Every single score from every judge in every caption is a testament to the expertise and direction of the design and educational staff and countless hours of practice and determination from the Blue Knights themselves.


Todd Eastis has been a Drum Corps fan as long as he can remember. He is a recent transplant to Denver from Northern Indiana. You have probably seen him at the Ascend promotions booth at the Rocky Mountain Percussion Association (RMPA) shows, Friendship Cup Marching Band Competitions, Drums Along the Rockies show or any number of events. He is currently pursuing his Masters of Nonprofit management at Regis University in hopes of working in fundraising and grant writing.

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Ken Adams


Mark Arnold is one of the longest-serving Directors in Drum Corps International, serving as Executive Director of the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps since 1985 and as CEO of Ascend Performing Arts since 2010.

Under his leadership the Blue Knights organization has developed into one of the premier Drum and Bugle Corps in the history of the activity, recognized Internationally for excellence and innovation in the performing arts. Through the years the Blue Knights has expanded its programing and now serves thousands of young musicians and performers annually in multiple performing ensembles, events and educational programs under the umbrella of the Ascend Performing Arts.

In addition to shaping the course of Ascend Performing Arts, Mark also has played an integral role in the ongoing development and successes of Drum Corps International as a collective. He served as chairman of the DCI Board of Directors in 1994 and again from 2008 to 2013. Mark was honored as Corps Director of the Year in 2004, and was the inaugural recipient of the George Bonfiglio Chairman’s Award at the 2012 DCI World Championships, which is given to an individual each year who demonstrates extraordinary leadership and service on behalf of DCI and its performing drum corps.  Mark was inducted into the DCI Hall of Fame in 2014 and the Blue Knights Hall of Fame in 2019.

Prior to his position with the Blue Knights, Mark was the Assistant Director of the Troopers Drum and Bugle Corps from 1978 through 1983, serving alongside Director Jim Jones, one of the founders of Drum Corps International and an inaugural member of the DCI Hall of Fame.  Mr. Arnold has a degree in Music Education from the University of Wyoming and taught High School Music in Wyoming and Nebraska from 1979 through 1985.
Mark Arnold


Scott Factor has served on the Ascend Performing Arts Board from 2012 to 2018 as a voting member in various positions including Vice-Chairman. Since 2019 my role has been in an Advisory position.

Outside of Ascend Performing Arts i am Senior Account Executive for Baxter HealthCare.
Scott Factor


I am currently an Ascend Board Member-at-Large.  I have been a volunteer with the Blue Knights since 2013.  I have been serving on the BoD since 2019.  I retired from the United States Postal Service in 2010.  Although I have never marched drum corps I am an avid fan of the activity and thoroughly support our members in any way that I can.  “We Go On”!!! 

Neil Corvino


Board member Kathy Black is an attorney in New Mexico practicing as a full-time litigator focused on employment and civil rights defense. She came to the law as a second career after twenty-five years in high tech with NCR Corporation, doing everything from operating systems programming to Vice President positions in engineering, customer services, and sales. She earned her JD from Lewis & Clark Law School and her BA from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Ms. Black is active as a percussionist in the Albuquerque area. Way back in 1978 she marched with the Guardsmen, including at DCI Finals in Denver.  After many years of being just a drum corps fan, she was elected to the Drum Corps International Board of Directors in January 2016 and served on that board until January 2022, including three years as chair. 

Kathy Black


Bryant’s path to the Ascend Board of Directors, which began in 2021 as a member-at-large, traces back to his childhood. Watching the Reading Buccaneers senior drum corps practice near his grandparents’ home ignited a lifelong passion, and a student of all thing’s percussion.

Years later a family move to Colorado provided Bryant with a platform to display his passion, both on the stage with the nationally acclaimed Green Earth Percussion Ensemble and on the field as a snare drummer with the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps until his age-out year in 1984.

In his professional career as the Senior Director of Strategic Accounts at Yokohama Tire Co., Bryant credits the principles instilled by the marching arts and years on tour for his success. On a personal level, the arts played an even larger role, where Bryant met his wife, Stephanie. The Rankin’s currently make their home in South Carolina, enjoying time with their grown children, two incredible grandchildren, and their beloved brown lab, Zoey.
Bryant Rankin


Retired, Director, Office of Research and Analysis, Colorado Department of Revenue Ms. Archibeque served 26 years in the area of statistical analysis for the Colorado Department of Revenue and Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. Her skills in this area assist the board in developing a strategy for statistical analysis in the area of program evaluation. She has also been a significant volunteer managing and working with volunteers for the organization and will assist the board in understanding the complex nature of the organization. Her personal experiences as a minority and female can inform and promote a more inclusive environment and agenda for the projects that the board supports.

Janet Archibeque


Rob Batchelder was appointed to the Ascend Performing Arts Board of Directors in May 2023, and currently serves as Vice Chair. As a member of the Senior Foreign Service, Rob has represented the United States overseas in India, Poland, Germany, Argentina, Nicaragua, Jamaica, and Namibia during a diplomatic career spanning nearly 30 years. He currently serves as Managing Director for Visa Services in the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs in Washington, DC. Rob marched in the Blue Knights hornline in 1987 and 1988, and he was Drum Major in 1989. He and his family live in Alexandria, Virginia, but his heart still yearns for Colorado.

Rob Batchelder