The Illini Drumline


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Illini Drumline Scholarship

Current endowment $53,000 (Sept 2021)

18 Scholarships awarded for a total of: $15,400






Jeremy McGinnis


Ben Belzer


Justin Ahlberg


Andrew Dittrich


Brandon Catt


Joe Mroczek


Michael Stein


Corey Rudner


Alek Mann


Sarah Lesiecki


Ming Fong


Zach Wiltgen


Scott Johnston


Alec Lueders


Anthony Hish


Gary Rudolph


Payton Huene


Jamie Popp


History Summary - Transition -- by DH

Of course there were marching drums all the way back to 1906 or earlier, but the drum line made a big transition to under the leadership of section leader Russ Weber starting in 1976. Russ brought new ideas, new street beats, and encouraged an influx of drum corps talent that in previous years would not have marched in the band at all. He also convinced the new director Gary Smith to start playing drum corps rips like "Channel One Suite" and many others.

With a set of better drums (bought used from the Schaumburg Guardsmen) and new uniforms in 1979, the transition to a corps-style drum line was complete, but we were able to maintain that delicate balance of drumline innovation while still keeping many traditions from prior generations.

By the way, we played "matched grip" from 1978 to about 1983. We were trying to imitate Santa Clara and solve some serious left-hand problems.

Russ also had his wingman Z (Mike Zielinsky) a really smart guy with ideas like selling drumline merchandise to high schoolers, drumline logos, and registering the drum line as a official student organization.  Z is the logistics man with a great “Yes we can” approach.

Another foundational member is Mark Edwards (Boomer).  Boomer marched 6 years and then taught the bassline for 30 years.  He was also very involved in merchandise sales for the members and Festival, selling thousands of dollars of products annually.

Russ renamed the percussion section as the "Drumline" (1977), and acting as a catalyst for the very first indoor drumline competition, held in 1980, which the Illini Drumline won.

Since then, the Illini Drumline has improved incrementally every year.  What we've seen is a spiral of talent and effective teaching steadily improving the line. First-hand drum corps experience has been irreplaceable, but lots of drummers who were never in a corps have benefited from teachers who have drum corps experience.

What is great to see throughout the years is the close camaraderie that has been the hallmark of the drumline. In many ways the drumline becomes a sort of fraternity and sorority, with drummers spending practice time and lots of social time together.

Notable Alumni

William F. Ludwig II -- IDL 1937 -- Owner of the Ludwig Drum Company

Michael Colgrass  -- IDL 1950-51  -- 1978 Pulitzer Prize for Music for his symphonic piece Déjà vu, which was commissioned and premiered by the New York Philharmonic.  1982 Emmy Award for a PBS documentary Soundings: The Music of Michael Colgrass.

Al Payson -- IDL 1950-1951 -- Chicago Symphony Orchestra 1958 to 1997.  Grammy award winning recording of Ravel's "Bolero" under the baton of Sir Georg Solti, featuring Payson on snare drum.

Bill Olson -- IDL 1954-58 -- Dean of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Illinois

Russ Weber -- IDL 1976-79 -- Father of the modern Illini Drumline.  Responsible for changing the technique and culture of the drumline into a high-precision, drum corps style line with a better look, better playing, challenging parts, and great social events.

Paul Rudolph -- IDL 2004-08 -- Emmy Awards in 2016, 2017, and 2018 for Outstanding Sound Editing as music editor for Sesame Street.

Lt. Graham Stapleton -- IDL 2008-11 -- U.S.Navy F18 Fighter pilot.

Party Chicken -- IDL 1984-present -- Cool social leader who is always ready to party.  Wearing shades and sipping a martini, the Chicken is unflappable.

Drum Corps Members

Brian Spicer - DCI Individuals champion on quads.  The Cavaliers.  

Paul Kendeigh - DCI Champion.  The Cadets.

Todd Miller - DCI Champion.  The Cavaliers.  

Ben Hall - DCI Champion.  The Cavaliers.  

Derrick Weber - DCI Champion.  The Cavaliers.  

John Ferro - DCI Champion.  The Cavaliers.  

Ben Collins - DCI Champion.  The Cavaliers.  

Jesse Bakkes - DCI Drum trophy.  The Cavaliers.  

Steve Young - Phantom Regiment

Dave Flynn - The Cavaliers

Dave Adams - Phantom Regiment

Tom Kundmann - The Knights

Dale Hallerberg - The Cavaliers

Craig Taylor - Suncoast Sound

Brian Leonardson - The Cavaliers

Greg Gilboe - Phantom Regiment

Peggy Snyder - Phantom Regiment

Ron Lambert - The Cavaliers

Andy Dittrich - Capital Sound, Southwind, Madison Scouts

Kevin Gier - The Cavaliers.

Dave Schmuck - The Cavaliers

Andrew Packer - The Cavaliers

Chris Ham - Southwind

Erik Ekstrom - The Cavaliers

Josh Vidic - Blue Stars

Jesse Bakkes - The Cavaliers

Sarah Lesiecki - The Colts

Sam Taylor - The Cavaliers

Anthony Hish - The Cavaliers

Jeremy Wall - The Cavaliers

Mia Folliard - Phantom Regiment