In August 2012 the Crossmen made DCI's final 12 for the first time since 2004. Since it was so long since they marched on Saturday, their return to finals was filled with much emotion for the Corps, it's alumni, families and closest fans. The emotions on the faces during Finals Retreat at Lucus Oil Stadium in Indianapolis was clearly evident, particularly for those who have been in the Corps for three or more years who in past seasons have been in the stands on the Saturday evening watching the top 12 perform and go through Retreat wishing that they were on the field instead of the stands.
As the Crossmen finished 17th in 2011, a rise of five spots is a major accomplishment...only the 4th time in 40 years for a Corps has gone from 17 or lower to the finals a year later. It is highly likely therefore that the 2012 Crossmen will be held in the Corps' lore and history over the coming decades as a special group.
The current group of age-outs (wearing white crosses in the pictures below) are passing the mantle to those who have one or two more seasons of eligibility and to a good degree that it will be in their hands a return to the top ten rests.
We can anticipate that Fed Morrison will again assemble a strong staff for next season, a staff that will guide and teach the members well. Though the quality of the show is another factor, two other legs beyond the staff and the quality of the music and drill are critical. The leadership of the senior vets is the third leg. They need to keep faith with past senior vets who patiently encouraged and set the example the younger members.
The fourth leg, and one that should not be under stressed, will be the number of younger vets who return next year. In the past years a good number of vets moving after one to three seasons to a top six Corps has kept the Crossmen as being a young Corps that is thin on solid vets. Hopefully after this solid season and a return to the finals few current will move to a top tier Corps. The return of these vets who would normally move will provide the Corps with a solid fourth leg which in turn allows for the demands of the music and drill to be at higher level than it in past years. A young inexperienced Corps with well more than half of the Corps being rookies demands a simpler and less complex drill and music.
The 2012 Crossmen clearly savored Saturday. The joy and bounce in the their step was evidenced during breakfast and during the Corps' age-out ceremony. They marched Saturday with boldness and confidence. Normally lower standing Corps exit the Retreat field soon after the Retreat ceremony has concluded. The Crossmen did not leave quickly as they were the second last to leave the Retreat field (the champions are the last to leave as it is their field). They absorbed the moment.
When they left the stadium they did not immediately pack their horns and drums away like the other Corps. Instead the Crossmen formed their semi circle in order to play for the last time music that is dear to their hearts and identity. Doing so served not only as a celebration moment but a bonding moment too, one which hopefully will stir the hearts of many members the desire to return and take the Crossmen the next level in the 2013 season.
Below are a few pictures from the Retreat as well as the YouTube link of the 2012 Crossmen playing their final notes together.
In the pictures, Josh is the one carrying the horn flag, the flag that he has carried on and off the competition field throughout the season (interestingly the Crossmen are the only Corps to have a Corps flag that they carry onto the field at each show). You will also notice that as they exit the field behind the flag that they are walking in pairs with their linked hands held high as a symbol of unity (they do this following each show).