Contributed by FFCC Staff, Jim Taylor
Florida is my home. It has been my home for all of my life; 48 years in Orlando and 5 in Tallahassee. I’ve traveled all over the country and can adapt quite well to new locations, but until I feel that hot wall of humid air getting off the plane, I know that I’m not home.Except for one place for two weeks out of the year. My second home – Dayton, Ohio.
When I land at James Cox Airport and see that WGI banner walking to baggage claim; when I check into the Dayton Marriott; when I walk into the UD Arena – all these are so familiar to me after 28 years of attending the WGI World Championships that I say to myself, “This feels like home.”
I first came to “Dayton” (nobody calls it by the official title) in 1988. I was intimidated by the size of the UD Arena. I noticed that some of the FFCC performers were looking nervous in such a big space. Surrounded by thousands of spectators and hundreds of performers from around the country, they looked lost in the vast space of the arena.
I began volunteering for WGI in Dayton in 2000, and I noticed something. Whenever an FFCC team came around a corner and saw me, something changed in them. They smiled more and stood a bit taller.
It wasn’t just the performers who more relaxed. Over the years, I heard more and more from directors, “It’s so good to see you here. Makes it feel more like home.” Lately, I’ve heard it from performers, too.
During my 25 years as the FFCC Contest Coordinator, I endeavored to make WGI World Championships and Regionals more comfortable, more “familiar” for our colorguards, drumlines and now, wind ensembles. I formatted our local shows to match the WGI events with one goal in mind – so that our performers would go through warm-up and holding like an FFCC contest, then hear the same introduction to their performance, just so they can have this feeling as they perform in the biggest stage,
“It feels like home.”