What It Takes

DENVER, CO – Off the field, away from the lights and the cheering fans, the most incredible part of the drum corps activity takes place… It’s behind the glamour of performance that one can truly see and appreciate the dedication that is required in order to keep an ensemble of this caliber functioning.

Kay McLellan put together some statistics about what it truly takes to run our internationally-recognized, world class ensemble.

calendar bk2015-infographic_05
In the 85 days between May 16th, when the corps members move in for all-day training, and August 8th, at World Championship Finals in Indianapolis, IN, the corps travels 10,457 miles and makes 35 different tour stops. Their convoy is made up of 9 vehicles–an admin van, a volunteer van (this year, pulling the prop trailer), an RV, a food truck, an equipment truck, a staff bus, and 3 tour busses for the members.trucks bk2015-infographic_12

DID YOU KNOW? Each tour bus holds between 150-250 gallons of fuel!

While that may sound like an unnecessary number of wheels, it takes at least that many to get the Blue Knights around–in size, they can only be compared to a small army. The 150-person corps consists of 11 front ensemble members, 29 trumpets, 16 mellophones, 16 baritones, 8 euphoniums, 16 contras, 36 color guard members, 9 snares, 4 tenors, and 5 basses (whew!). Each one of them went through a rigorous audition process in order to determine whether or not they would be the right fit for the corps. The 2015 corps was selected from around 800 audition-camp-attendees, and many have called them the Staff BK-infographic
most talented membership the Blue Knights have ever had.

In addition to the ensemble members, there are 64 staff members, many of which also join the corps on tour. This includes the administrative staff, design team, guard staff, brass staff, percussion staff, visual staff, cook staff, and other staff members like interns and BK Marketplace staff.

Our remarkable cook staff is headed up by Doug McCarrollfood-v0707-7p_03, long-time head chef for the Blue Knights. The corps is served 4 meals and 5,200 calories per day–that’s close to three times the daily recommended intake, but many of the members still end up losing weight. That adds up to 5,600 meals per week, and close to 1,686 lbs of food.

DID YOU KNOW? The corps eats an average of 400 PBJ sandwiches per day–that’s around 35 loaves of bread, and 25 16-oz jars of peanut butter.

Want to help #FeedTheKnights? Click here! You’ll be personally thanked by our members via our Facebook page!

When it matters–and it always matters–the Blue Knights consistently have phenomenal volunteers who devote, together, close to 10,482 hours and provide services estimated to be worth close to $248,000. (Of course, to the organization, they’re priceless.) The corps would be unable to function without the help of dedicated and passionate volunteers.


DID YOU KNOW? Our wonderful volunteers devote close to 10,482 hours of service to the corps over the course of a summer. Want to volunteer for the Blue Knights? Click HERE!

It’s apparent to anyone familiar with the Blue Knights that, as individuals, everyone involved is incredible. Together, though, they are able to produce something truly indescribable, and that’s where all the hard work pays off. Ultimately, it isn’t about scores or donations. It’s the ability to move an audience to tears and to their feet, the ability to change lives of spectators and members alike, the ability to form bonds and create memories that will last a lifetime… these are the things that set this activity apart.

It takes a lot to run a drum corps like ours, but in the end, we wouldn’t have it any other way.


Have you heard? The Blue Knights are competing in the second annual Rocky Mountain Rivalry against our Wyoming friends, the Casper Troopers by making a 100% tax-deductible gift before July 17th! We need YOUR help to continue our winning streak!



rachelfaceRachel Hanna is a native of Des Moines, Iowa and is currently pursuing degrees in Communication and in English at Truman State University, located in northeast Missouri.

Rachel has been a passionate supporter of music and the marching arts for many years; she performed in Truman’s Statesmen Color Guard in 2014, was on the founding executive board & design team of Amethyst Independent Winter Guard in 2015, and has been involved in various choirs throughout her life. She continues her involvement in Truman State’s music department through Sigma Alpha Iota, a national women’s music fraternity. She is excited to combine her professional communication interest with her love for the arts as a member of this brand new internship team.

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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