It was the first official day of summer break, and Emily Swanson and her mom were headed to the vet. As her cat persistently meowed in the backseat, Emily received a call from her dad instructing her to contact her band director immediately. “My hands were shaking so badly that I actually dialed a completely wrong number,” Emily recalls, but when she finally reached Mr. McDonough, a 2008 alum, he immediately informed her that she had been selected as the 2015 All-American drum major.
Although Emily struggled to believe him, Mr. McDonough continued to repeat the news until Emily realized her dream was becoming reality. Meanwhile, her other band director Mr. Maegly jokingly told Emily over speakerphone that she had to dye her hair red, white, and blue.
Emily admits that after applying both on piccolo and as drum major, she did not expect to be chosen. She thought that because her school, Kings High School in Kings Mills, Ohio, is not very large, her chances were low. However, size is not a factor in USAAAMB selection. Now that Emily’s leadership prowess in her band program has been nationally recognized, she says, “I honestly cannot wait to represent my family, my school, my town, and my band to the best of my abilities.”
Keeping in tradition, Emily’s selection was officially announced during DCI finals August 9 as last year’s drum major passed her the shako. The words “don’t drop the shako” repeated in her head as she stood before the massive crowd at Lucas Oil Stadium. Above all, Emily was most excited to hear her friends’ reactions because aside from close family, Emily kept her selection a secret all summer.
The opportunity to work with new marchers and staff members is what most excites Emily about the drum major position. She is looking forward to working with people from across the country and anticipates bringing the knowledge they teach her home to share with her band.
The ability to lead is an essential attribute of an All-American, and the skill bodes well with teaching, as evidenced by Mr. McDonough and many other alumni who have become influential educators. Emily plans to pursue education as well; she would like to teach math and potentially science. She also adds, “And of course, I am going to participate in band as much as possible.”