Becoming the new head drum major for the Marching 100 is a dream come true for Antonio Drayton.
Drayton, 21, a senior psychology student from Miami, says that he has dreamed of leading the legendary band since he was seven.
“People are expecting a lot out of me,” Drayton said. “I just hope to continue the legacy of the great band leaders that came before me.”
Besides being a full-time student and head drum major, Drayton is also an active member of Kappa Kappa Psi, the national band fraternity, and a member of the Strikers dance troupe.
Drayton admits that he is already feeling the pressure of maintaining such a strong legacy.
“After following behind such a rich tradition, there is always going to be pressure, but I just hope to be as good, and hopefully better than past drum majors.”
Fellow drum major Alvin Benton, 22, a graduate history student from Atlanta believes that his friend and roommate is up to the challenge.
“Antonio is known for stepping up to the task,” Benton said. “He knows that he has a lot of eyes watching him, but he seems to work better under pressure.”
Drayton and Benton came up through the ranks of the Marching 100 together. They both became drum majors in the fall of 2000. Benton served as co-head drum major alongside outgoing head drum major Timothy Barber in 2002.
According to Barber, a graduate African-American History student from Miami, the road to being the head drum major of the Marching 100 is not easy.
The selection process consists of a rigorous physical, mental and character trial. Barber says that whoever assumes the position of the head drum major must be prepared to consistently lead over 400 band members during practices and performances.
“Character is the number one aspect,” Barber said. “We often say that being a drum major, especially head drum major is 80 percent mental and 20 percent physical.”
Among all the pressures and expectations that come with his new position, Drayton just wants to be the best drum major that he can be and leave a legacy of his own.
“After I leave I hope that those who follow will give 150 percent because that’s what this position deserves,” Drayton said. “I waited a long time for this moment, now I just want to relish in it and enjoy it as much as possible.”
Antione Davis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org