MADISON, NJ - The Madison Marching Dodgers enter their fourth year of performance under the leadership of Madison’s High School Director of Bands, Russell Batsch. “There’s nobody better,” Jay Oh, senior and main drum major said of his mentor.
“We started with 50 kids. We’ve grown to 140, and the first three years we were undefeated," Russell Batsch said. “We have three goals – to make a lot of noise when the other team has the ball, compete and be part of a current tournament of bands and perform in parades.”
”Our group is a family. It’s physically demanding. Most people don’t realize it’s a sport,” Jay Oh said.
Batsch indicated through their networking and past performances, they are developing a fine reputation for themselves and now perform in other towns too.
“I love the intensity of the group. They just get out there and do it. I love working with individuals who are focused,” said senior Abi Raymaker, assistant drum major.
A group of five people collaborated in January for approximately five hours to design a theme for the upcoming season. This year, the band will begin with a physical design of the moon on the field with a lullaby introduction. There will be a narration of children’s stories with sounds and visuals to deliver their theme of dreams and nightmares with an ultimate dream fulfilled of becoming a famous rock star.
Senior Jack D’Addario, field captain and soloist said, “There’s so much enthusiasm.”
Volunteers made up of drill writers and visual designers dedicate their time in orchestrating the physical body, carriage and focus of every individual to come together as one team.
"These are really dedicated kids. They love to perform. They'd even march out in a hurricane. I love the fact that it’s a small band, a small town and we’re a big name now. I think that's where the buzz comes from," Batsch said.
The Marching Dodgers are supported by the Marching Dodger Booster Club, an official 501(c)3 non-profit charity. They help to fund improvements for the band’s season of competitions and performances. Donations are appreciated.
The students have practiced all summer, and now band camp begins today, Aug. 23 and runs until Aug. 27. They practice morning into night. They’re looking forward to the new school year and the first football home game of the year which is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 21 at 1 p.m.