There is something about entering the field in Lucas Oil Stadium that takes my breath away.
It happens so quickly. We are in the tunnel chilling, loose, waiting to perform. We start to walk. We turn the corner and see the turf, green where the concrete ends, green and the distant blue seats across the field.
When my first foot falls against the turf, everything goes silent, as if all sounds have been whisked away in a vacuum. The quiet presses into my ears. On my right are the stands, thousands of blue seats. For us, they are almost always more empty than they should be.
This vacuum of quiet sucks away all air. My breath isn’t taken away because I’m in awe. It’s because it is forcefully taken from me. I become so terrifyingly aware of all the people and all the empty blue seats, looking down on me six stories above my puny little head. Every year I have performed in this stadium, it is this feeling of suffocating, this feeling of being watched and scrutinized from a far away place of comfort that has stuck with me.
In 2011, in this very stadium, I had an epiphany as I ran onto the field for the preshow for Petal Tones: When you feel tiny, when you feel insignificant, you have no choice but to fight back with everything you have and everything that you are. This stadium will shrink you and you have no choice but grow to fill it.
Tomorrow, I do battle with this field as a DCI performer for the 8th and final time. And for the 8th time, with my corps logo flashing around the perimeter of the field, the roaring of the crowd, and the courage and hard work of the 149 people beside me, I will be triumphant.