Blue Devils don’t miss a beat with undefeated 20th world championship

Blue Devils don’t miss a beat with undefeated 20th world championship
Color Guard member Nicholas Chong of Danville performs in the opening movement of the Blue Devils “Tempus Blue” program, which won the Concord organization’s 20th DCI World Championship Saturday night in front of 20,705 fans in Indianapolis. The Blue Devils were undefeated during DCI’s Golden Anniversary season, the eighth time they did not lose a single competition enroute to the world title. (Photo by Liset Garcia courtesy of the Blue Devils)

CONCORD, CA (August 18, 2022) — After two years away from performing, the Blue Devils did not fail to live up to their reputation as the finest drum corps in the world when they completed an undefeated season last Saturday night in front of nearly 21,000 fans to win the Concord corps’ 20th Drum Corps International World Championship.

And unlike their most recent DCI title in 2019—before COVID brought the activity to a halt for two years–when the Blue Devils had to overcome season-long favored Bluecoats on the last weekend, this season’s corps won every competition on its coast-to-coast schedule.

Its score of 98.75 is the highest winning total since 2014 when, of course, the Blue Devils posted the all-time record of 99.65.

That year was also the first for Pat Seidling serving as A Corps Director. He joined the Blue Devils in 2007 and 15 years later says, “I’m one of the new guys [on the staff].” Seidling recalls that the late Hall of Fame Executive Director Jerry Seawright always said of the Blue Devils, “It’s about the people.”

He says the organization returned almost intact after the pandemic from those working in the Blue Devils bingo hall to cooks and drivers to performance staff because, “the Blue Devils take care of its people with respect.”

Over 500 “ambitious, dedicated and talented” young people auditioned for this year’s A Corps which ended up with 164 members after DCI upped the maximum total from 150 to 165 this year. Of that total, 88 were from California (evenly split between North and South), plus three from Japan, one from England and the others from 25 states.

Because of the two-year hiatus, only 21 members of this year’s squad participated in 2019 meaning there were 143 first-time members in the A Corps. Although the average age of this year’s A Corps was slightly higher than normal at 20.25 years.

Snare drummer Riley Giadone, a 2020 Clayton Valley Charter High School grad, was the only local member of the A Corps.

Although the Blue Devils never lost a competition this year, Seidling and his staff said the early performances were “rough.” However, as July rolled around on tour “they had come a long way.” He says with so many new members the corps had “to understand how to perform as the Blue Devils. It takes more than talent.”

Final Awards Ceremony Video

Blue Devils were founded in the Concord home of Tony and Ann Odello in 1957. This DCI Golden Anniversary Season coincided with the 65th anniversary year for the Blue Devils and their performances were all golden.

This season holds a special place in Blue Devils annals after the 2020 and 2021 seasons were lost to the pandemic. During that time co-founder Ann Odello and Gail Schultz, “the face, heart and soul of the Blue Devils,” both died.

At the three-day World Championships, the Blue Devils not only won the team title but also earned caption awards for Best Visual Performance, Best General Effect and Best Brass Performance (BD’s 25th time taking that award).

“It’s amazing,” Blue Devils brass caption head John Meehan said. “After seeing this Top 12, 10 of them in the 90s, and just the performance level of the students, I think we pushed to a new level. The excitement of this group at the Blue Devils is incredible.”

Title No. 20 came at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis over a field of 35 corps. In the finals, the Boston Crusaders, who gave the champions their closest placings this season, and the Bluecoats tied for second. This is the 14th time in a row the Blue Devils have placed first or second, including nine DCI World titles since 2007. The team has been in the top five every year since 1975.

Seidling says this year’s program “Tempus Blue” was being formulated for the 2020 season before it was called to a halt. The production was inspired by the origin and evolution of the color blue: “Dancing on the historical timeline of this mysterious, dynamic color, the 2022 Blue Devils celebrate their 65th Anniversary with ‘Tempus Blue’.” Music was from such diverse composers as Henry Mancini, Bruno Mars, Dave Glyde and Niccolo Paganini.

Blue Devils B Corps, comprised of high school students, returned to DCI Open Division for the first time since 2018 and won the bronze medal last week for their production of “I Am.”

Blue Devils Video by Jay Bedecarré

On a beautiful Saturday evening, Blue Devils fans watched the DCI Finals on a big screen in Todos Santos Plaza. The knowledgeable crowd in the park included all ages including former Blue Devils performers and staff. As the Blue Devils began the final performance of the night someone shouted, “Here we go!” During the performance shouts of “Blue” and “20” also were heard.

There was a technical glitch just as the final results were to be revealed to the Concord audience. The feed from Indianapolis was restored but it was then a couple minutes behind the live feed so that people who were following on their electronic devices got the final result before the big screen showed it to the crowd, but no one spoiled the fun for those sitting on the grass who voiced their approval of the judge’s scores.

Jay Bedecarré
Jay Bedecarré
Sports and Schools Editor at The Concord Clayton Pioneer | | Website

Jay Bedecarré is a long-time resident and writer in Concord and Clayton. He began his newspaper writing career while still a senior at Mt. Diablo High School and he has been part of The Pioneer since its inception in 2003. Jay also operates Bay Area Festivals, presenting events around the San Francisco Bay Area including Bay Area KidFest annually in Downtown Concord.