2013 brought more of the same. Side by Side was the show, and Zack had risen to the position of drum major. The props were supplied by a pro-welder that year, but Jay notes that there were many, many kinks to work out which took up most of his spring training. “I was still the driver, fixer, cook, and go-to guy,” he said.
When new volunteers came in, Jay was typically introduced by others as, “the glue that holds all this together.”
In 2014, Jay came back even though Zack had aged out. “I was just doing what I believed in,” he said. “For the American Promise season, I was still the fixer, driver, cook, prop guy. We had to deal with the ‘Cadetipede’ — the front-sideline stage with ramps that went from the 20 to the 20. Talk about tricky to move!” he said.
To top it off, Jay was tasked with devising a way to raise a 25-foot-tall by 60-foot-long backdrop on the back of the field for the last movement of the show. “It was a huge sail!” he said. “The first time we tried it, the small, backfield drum major was told to hold the center. It took her 10 feet up in the air! It took me quite a bit of tweaking to make it work by the end of tour. That, and we built an 8-foot star that was raised 10 feet up,” Jay said.
2015 was The Power of 10. “Same deal, but I think I spent more time on the food truck cooking that year,” he said. “It’s hard to get good help to commit for three months. But I was still part-time driving, fixing, and prop-redesigning. Some of the smaller guard members had a hard time with those big boxes,” he recalled.
For the 2016 Awakening season, Jay cooked for all the winter camps, helped the corps move in to spring training, and joined the tour in Texas. He asked whether he was most needed in transportation or food service and was told, “Mannequins.” Jay said, “OK.”
“They had this huge, cake-shaped pedestal made out of pressure-treated wood that held 20-some kids but took 10 people to move onto the field. There was also a smaller version that was giving the current prop crew all they could handle, and they had 25 or so mannequins but no idea how to make them stand up on turf.”
There were a lot of happy faces the day Jay met up with the corps in Texas. “It took a couple days, but I figured it all out,” he said.