When the 15-time world champion Blue Devils of Concord, Calif, take the field Monday, Aug. 5, for the Drums Along the Waterfront Tour of Champions event at Ralph Wilson Stadium, those in attendance may want to keep their eyes on some history in the making. And if the name Nicole Marie Casino doesn’t mean much to you now, it’s only because you haven’t heard her story of dedication and determination.
Nicole has spent the past year knocking down barriers in the drum corps world. Now in her second and final year with the Blue Devils — the number one ranked corps in the world — before she is aged out, she proudly serves as center snare captain, an important role historically held by men. If fact, Nicole appears to be the only female center snare captain on a major drum corps in the United States ... and perhaps the world.
“Being the center snare captain means not only having the privilege of leading an extremely talented and dedicated group of guys, but on another level it opens up the door for other girls who may follow me,” said the 21-year-old from Chino Hills, Calif. “Fortunately, I’m surrounded by guys who respect my knowledge and let me lead them. Yes, boys will be boys and they’ll make their jokes from time to time, but I can equally dish it out to them. Overall, it’s a fun gig and they treat me with respect.”
There is also a lot of stress that comes into play with being a leader, Nicole admits. “At times, it can be very hectic and stressful.”
Much of the stress can be attributed to a brutal travel and performance schedule. It’s not uncommon to practice 12 to 14 hours per day, travel by night and get only a few hours of sleep atop an air mattress on a gym floor. Thus is the life of a drum corps musical athlete.
When she’s not on the road, Nicole is a student at Mt. San Antonio College in California where she is majoring in music and business. Her goal after college is to remain in the music industry, perhaps on the business side.
“I’m the first one in my family to venture into this field,” said Nicole. “It’s my own thing, but my family has been super supportive. They come to our family day and will fly out to the World Championships in Indianapolis (which follows the Tour of Champions event in Buffalo).”
Nicole and her teammates will arrive in Buffalo ready to put on a spectacular show.
“Be ready to watch something you’ve never seen before,” Nicole advised those who plan to come to Ralph Wilson Stadium to witness the event. “In typical Blue Devils fashion, we’ll have some crazy things going on on the field at all times. Enjoy the show for all it is!”
Discount tickets for the event are now available at 150 participating Tim Hortons locations throughout Western New York, and parking at the event is free. For more information, please visit http://drumsalongthewaterfront.org.