Odessa Residents Will Again Hear a "Thunder in the Desert"
by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND--Drum Corps International (DCI) kicks off their national tour at Ratliff Stadium on Tuesday night.  NewsWest 9 followed one of the competing corps, the day before competition.

It will be a night of many firsts.  Not only is Thunder in the Desert coming back to Odessa, but also, a brand new corps is making it's debut with DCI, on the road to the world championships. But, members and directors will be the first tell you, this isn't your typical marching band.

Set-up, perform, tear down, do it again. Not once, not twice, but three times in three hours.  It was a fast paced, furious day for the members of the Genesis Drum and Bugle Corps from Edinburg, Texas.

According to Executive Director and co-founder Christopher Magonigal, getting up early and long days of rehearsals in the hot sun is all part of the training and discipline Drum Corps International instills in its members, "The discipline factors that we teach them are how to take care of themselves, their neatness and their own areas, how to treat others with respect.  Everything has it's place, has it's time and the kids try to understand that."

The Genesis Corps is less than a year old.  There is a lot of pressure on this young group of musicians, who range from 15 to 21 years old.  For some, this national tour is the first time they've ever been away from home.  But 17-year-old drum major Douglas Sanchez says, they're excited to face the challenge.

"In marching band, it's usually, you have to get that P.E. or music credit in.  Here, all the members WANT to be a part of the corps," Sanchez explained.

With the exception of last year, Thunder in the Desert had been hosted in Midland.  Odessa High School Assistant Band Director Steven Dojahn was instrumental in bringing it back to Odessa.

According to Dojahn, "I called Drum Corps International and asked, "Where did the show go?  They said no one wanted to host it.  I said you have a school now.  OHS wants to sponsor it.  They sent the contracts, we signed them and the rest is history."

DCI is a non-profit organization.  All the Corps that participate rely heavily on donations and volunteers.

Dojahn says the training and practice Corps like Genesis go through, is an excellent source of motivation and inspiration for high school bands like OHS, "We hope when they go see the show and they come out to the rehearsals like this, they get a sense there is something bigger, something better than just high school marching band."

Magonigal says the colors purple and black and the phoenix are perfect symbols for Genesis.  He says every year will be one of birth and renewal for this fledgling Corps as it rises from the ashes, straight to the top, "Really, our show is designed to make a statement and let everyone know we're here and we're ready for competition in the future."