Competition tough to lead Spirit of Troy

Before the Trojans take the field for the first home game of the 2010 season, one student will be tasked with leading the Trojan Marching Band onto the field and kicking off the day’s events with the ceremonial stabbing of the field.

Marching in · Drum Major Kenny Morris leads the Trojan Marching Band onto the field at a football game at the Coliseum this fall. - Brandon Hui | Daily Trojan

Five band members will compete for the coveted drum major spot tonight: Kyle Wilson, a junior majoring in theatre who plays trombone; Keith Yoerg, a sophomore majoring in astronautics and space technology who plays trumpet; Josh Zieve, a junior majoring in fine arts who plays trumpet; Iwari Dewees, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering who plays the tenor saxophone; and Timothy Larson, a junior majoring in neuroscience who plays trumpet.

On Tuesday night, the candidates will take turns giving vocal commands, marching and giving motivational speeches. The entire marching band will then vote on who will carry the sword come fall.

Kenny Morris, this year’s drum major, said the drum major must provide leadership to each section in the band.

“How effective, cohesive and powerful the band is comes down to the leader. These guys will have to step into that role. It’s something that I had to do,” Morris said. “To be that fire, to be that person that says ‘We are great, but we can be even greater.’”

Morris won the drum major position last year over Larson, though the selection was tough.

The original audition resulted in a tie between Larson and Morris that was decided by a spring scrimmage. Larson and Morris split the time as drum major during the scrimmage, and a re-vote declared Morris the winner.

Larson said losing out on the position last year has prepared him to audition again this year.

“I think I am more driven this year. I don’t regret not getting it last year, but I’m not entirely sure if I was ready for it,” Larson said. “It has pushed me to try even harder this year.”

For Wilson, the decision to try out was simple because he has been immersed in the USC band since an early age.

“My brother and sister are both graduates of USC, and they were both in the band, so I’ve known of the position since I was about six years old,” Wilson said. “That’s when I absolutely fell in love with the band.”

As a member of ROTC, Wilson feels he is prepared to lead the Trojan Marching Band.

“I was taught to be a leader, not a follower. Having been around the band for so long, I will be able to continue to uphold the traditions and take charge,” Wilson said.

Yoerg is the youngest drum major hopeful.

“Initially, people might think [my age] will be a factor, but when it comes down to my audition, it won’t weigh as heavily on their minds,” Yoerg said.

Yoerg is excited by this chance to usher USC football into a new era.

“I think that I can definitely bring the enthusiasm, and part of the reason is that I love USC football,” Yoerg said. “Now we just have to prove that we’re still the Trojans and that it’s not just Pete Carroll who held the team together.”

Zieve has prior experience as a drum major for his high school.

“I’ve had many leadership positions in the past, so I feel like I’m ready to be drum major. It’s really something that I’ve aspired to since I’ve been a freshman at USC,” Zieve said.

Zieve said it is important for the drum major to connect with all types of people in the band.

“The drum major should be someone who everyone can get along with and relate to,” Zieve said. “No one wants a drum major who thinks they’re better or doesn’t work as hard.”

Dewees said he has worked since his freshman year to reach the level of skill required to lead the band.

“I just didn’t give up, and I put in four years of hard work to get to the point where I am in a good position to lead the Trojan Marching Band,” Dewees said. “Not giving up on your dreams can help you realize them no matter how far you are from the picture at the beginning.”

Members of the band said that the most important characteristic for a potential drum major is having leadership skills.

“The drum major is the leader of the band, both on and off the field,” said K.C. Busby, a sophomore majoring in industrial and systems engineering. “[He’s] in charge of keeping up the intensity at practice, making sure we’re all doing what we’re supposed to and keeping our enthusiasm at a really high level.”

The auditions will be held Tuesday and, except in the case of a tie, the winner should be announced immediately after the vote.

4 replies
  1. GIles
    GIles says:

    Bruce, I am cool with that. As an OIF VET I am proud that an ROTC person is trying out. But in the future, I would like a Veteran Student from OIF or OEF to try out. Male, female, I don’t care.

  2. Michael
    Michael says:


    I understand what you mean. Maybe one day hopefully in the near future, we can have a male and a female drum major to lead the band. Tommy and Tammy Trojan =D

  3. Jim
    Jim says:

    Bruce, no offense to women, but this is a warrior-type of gig. I am sure a woman will hold the position some day but I think most women would agree TOMMY Trojan should be a guy.

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