As bustling crowds of students rummage through the football field stands, you can hear the excited voices alongside Eagle Rock High School’s Marching Band. Arriving closer to the scene of emerald attire, your heart’s rhythm aligns with every pulse of beat from the drumline. Anticipation circles the atmosphere as you gaze upon not only the liveliness of the ensemble, but also the group moving toward the center of the field. The stadium lights glisten upon each sequence placed on the pleated dress; green, white, and gray. Their arms are crossed behind their backs, and their hands shaped like a diamond. Each of them with a bow tied to their hair, and a smile exhibiting the beauty of unison. Your eyes shift to the three individuals who march onto the field last, one of them blowing a whistle, signaling marching directions to their fellow drillmates. Full of sophistication and pride, you can tell that they’re the Captains of Eagle Rock High School’s Drill Team.
Noa Alpuerto, Kalie Jimenez, and Bella Lopez are the face of this year’s Drill Team, all leading the team full of drive, love, and happiness. When asked why they wanted to be a part of Drill, they collectively agreed that their admiration for the previous years’ teams inspired them. The three were commonly found on the perimeter of the quad during their middle school years, mesmerized by the fluid movements the team displayed. The trio was so intrigued, they would spend their free time glued to their blue screens at home, watching previous routines from the teams of 2017-2019, Their 12-14-year-old minds couldn’t get enough. “My Drill inspirations, my Drill icons: Jean Karlo, Lani, and Nalan. They were such great inspirations and the most mature people I knew. They were so amazing at Drill too,” Noa mentions. With the desire of wanting to be part of the group that performed every Friday, Noa and Bella joined Drill in their Freshman year and Kalie in her Sophomore year.
With sports comes high levels of anxiety. However, Noa, Kalie, and Bella arrived to the team with a warm welcome from their teammates through the annoying application of ZOOM. Because Kalie had joined in her Sophomore year, she was unable to fully experience the regular schedule of Drill as a “new girl”. “Right when practices were supposed to start, that’s when we went online and were told we were only going to be gone for a week. So I was like, ‘Okay, Drill’s coming and I don’t have anything to worry about.’ and I was so excited. But then, obviously, it started to get more and more shut down so I would constantly look up when LAUSD would drop the guidelines so we would be able to come and practice. I was waiting for Ms. Smith [coach] to contact us and when she did, I was so excited. From not being able to practice, being on Zoom and like learning little things to actually coming back, I was just really happy, especially having Bella as our Junior Captain too,” Kalie states. The developing friendships, memories, and sporting events within Drill inspired them to continue their passion for themselves and for everybody, fulfilling the joy of their inner child. Now, the leadership and responsibility they carry is not only the same as those they praised a few years ago, but also a continuation of what Drill truly means to the self-driven role models.
From the outside perspective, the popular misconception that Drill is a simple sport or not even a sport is a fallacy that the captains knew wasn’t real from the start. There is an extensive amount of detail used to create the cohesive movements we see every week; the repetition and teachings of 8-counts can sometimes drive a person mad. In spite of this, their motivation never dies down. The captains can’t go a single week without communication, a theme (for songs), formations, and the occasional cry. There is a constant dependency on one another to lead effectively. “Not one of us is doing more work than the other; everybody is putting in the same amount of effort. It’s just so much communication to prevent disorganization once it’s time to actually teach and perform. It’s such a huge time commitment to spend every second thinking ‘What’s our next move going to be?’ and I feel like that’s something that a lot of people don’t recognize,” Bella notes.
Because the captains are in their final year, they are left with the overbearing responsibility of college applications, other extracurricular activities, school, and personal life. Although they are caught in the chaos, Drill is their safe space; a temporary relief they look forward to every day. The bonds the captains have between each other and the rest of the team became a support system to get through the stress and continue to pursue their dreams for the future. Creating schedules, utilizing every minute of free time to complete work, and crying with each other (again) lifts the heavyweight to push forward. “I have only three academic classes this year. The rest are either free periods, clubs, and Drill, but also an art class, but I am in 10 clubs. So it is a lot, but the way of balancing them [for me] is that as soon as I have a free moment to do something, I will immediately just go and do it,” Noa says.
Within Drill, there is a common terminology to refer to routines and the function of the team pre-COVID, or “old Drill”. Old Drill’s complexity was eye-catching, with large and bold movements that could easily be seen from a mile away. Although the captains grew up watching the beauty, they acknowledge the difference between accommodations. It is seen that post-COVID Drill or “new Drill” began to include more of the team’s ideas to allow their voices to be heard. “We have a Google form for music suggestions and we ask them what hairstyles they want to do too. Little stuff like that gives them power so that they know that we do take everything into consideration,” Bella points out.
Noa, Kalie, and Bella hope to leave a significant mark on Drill as those who were ready to offer their love to the team. Their legacy is reliant on the continuation of “old Drill” and “new Drill”, hoping to carry the same impression of Drill they experienced back then. “We just hope that people remember us as friends rather than just strict captains,” Kalie says. Their efforts are unforgettable and we wish them an amazing senior year and life after high school!