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The student news site of Dowling Catholic High School

The Dowling Catholic Post

The student news site of Dowling Catholic High School

The Dowling Catholic Post

Behind the Vanguard: The Roadie Team

The 2023 Dowling Roadie Team poses in front of their props. [Dowling Catholic High School Bands]

Many people are at least somewhat familiar with the Dowling Vanguard, or the “marching band”, but not many know of all of the behind the scenes work that goes into each and every show. The blood, sweat, and tears put into every performance is not limited to the band alone – there are several volunteers and parents who put in just as much work as the students do. 

With the marching season over after the band’s final performance at Waukee on October 14th, it’s time to retire the props and the show as a whole. Several band parents and staff were eager to share their stories from this year and past of being part of the band. From the prop building to the immense amount of planning, band parents play an integral role in making sure the band is performance ready. These dedicated band staff were excited to share their lesser known perspective behind the scenes, and they had a lot to share.

Barry Cook (left) and Bob Volp (right). [Dowling Catholic High School Bands]

Barry Cook is a roadie for the Vanguard and is one of the co-chairs. He and fellow co-chair Bob Volp make calls on big decisions in the roadies and coordinating builds and loads in the roadies. Cook’s work on the show started in spring with the show’s announcement. As a roadie and a co-chair, Cook was concerned with how to build the props effectively and make them look good. Barry describes himself as more of a construction guy, but he still had to think about the prop’s appearance. He had to make sure that the props were portable, light, but were also appealing to the eye. Cook remarked that he really enjoyed this year’s show – it is very different from shows past. Each year is obviously different show-wise, but Cook also explained that the band feels different every year. Of course its composition is different each year with kids graduating and new ones enrolling, but looking back on the memories he has made is what makes each year different for Cook. The memories which he has made are really important to Cook, and he wishes that more people knew about that. He said “if people knew, they’d join.” In general Cook laments how little is known about band. The competitions, the work, the connections. As Cook said, if more people knew about how great a band is, or how great being a roadie is, they would join.

Roadies unpack props for BOA Marching Invitational. [Dowling Catholic High School Bands]

Bob Volp has been a roadie for five years and is another one of the two roadie co-chairs. He began by explaining that his work on the props started all the way back in March of this year when the show was announced. Volp reports that director Nicholas Hoover and Colorguard coach Angie Countryman-Marcentel “had a vision of a science lab,” and he was going to deliver. As marching season approached, Volp was told exactly what he needed to build first; tables and backdrops. Work on the tables began in June and spanned into July. Front scrims were also made around this time. Early August through September saw the development of the backdrops. It’s a huge time commitment, Volp reported they’d have up to thirteen hour days of work for the band. For Volp, all the work is worth it. “I’m lucky I can coordinate such an amazing group of individuals, though,” he said. One of Volp’s favorite stories from this year in Vanguard occurred at the Bands of America competition. Volp recalls that freshman Elly Daly had come up to him with a sort of medical emergency. A bird had… responded to its call of nature… on her hand. Volp sprung into action, calling for water and anything close by he could use to wipe off the mess, which ended up being some of the medic’s gauze. The show went off without a hitch after that. Even though this was a funny anecdote from the year, Volp like told it to show the pride he feels when students come to him with their problems. The closeness Volp gets with the band is the reason he continues to be a roadie. “Anyone can be in the stands, but it’s a different experience being on the field,” he says. The details you can see on the props is unbeatable, but Volp also expresses a great deal of joy in being able to see adrenaline physically running through the band. Wishing kids good luck before a show and telling them good job after a performance is one of Bob’s favorite parts of being a roadie. Although Bob Volp became a roadie for his own kids, he’s stayed a roadie because of the connections he’s made with the whole band.

Dowling’s 2022 Tree prop “Big Joe” [Dowling Catholic High School Bands]

Joe Moore is a band parent and roadie in the Dowling band. He had a big role in creating the giant tree centerpiece in the vanguard’s previous show “When the Forest Calls.” As a roadie, Moore’s “biggest rule is to work closely with the directors and the Colorguard coach to understand their idea and turn it into a reality.” When looking at the props from this year, you could safely say that was accomplished. When interviewed, Moore recalled the immense amount of praise the vanguard received last year about the tree. This being made largely by Moore made it a special moment for him. In his recollection, Moore remembers when the director of the Bands of America (BOA) Marching Band Championships commented on the tree saying it was a “professional level prop.” Moore also recalls him saying, “I know you’re from Dowling.” This is why, Moore explained, that he is a roadie. He says being a roadie is a great way to support his daughter who’s in the band but it also gives him a lot of  pride to make a recognizable band. “The kids work so hard on music so we can at least get them a shot,” Moore said, detailing how much of the band’s score can be affected by props. Part of the band’s score in competitions is based on visuals so strong theming and well made props can make or break a show. The tree ended up being a huge hit with audiences and the band, with the band nicknaming the tree “Big Joe” after its creator.

This year is Leenie Rodriguez’s second year as the President of Band Boosters in the Dowling band. Rodriguez plays a large coordinating role in the band. She works closely with the band’s directors in ensuring smooth seasons for the marching band, jazz band, concert and symphony band, and more. She also works with other parent volunteers and ensures that there’s snacks and water at each competition by asking for donations. “My goal and ours as a group of parents is for the band to not only have fun but that we keep the kids safe, secure and happy,” Rodriguez said. When asked why she’s a band parent, Rodriguez responded by saying that she became involved because of and for daughter in color guard and band. “I wanted to help where I could, in order to help ease the work of the Directors and help other parents,” she said. In the end, Rodriguez says that she is just proud to be a part of such an amazing program at Dowling. 

I could not walk away without wanting to be a part of the family that band creates.

— Leenie Rodriguez


The Dowling Catholic Vanguard can only function with the full effort and support of its student participants and parent volunteers alike. The only way for this show to ever have happened is with the hard work and dedication of these and all of the band volunteers involved. These are just four of the many parents and volunteers that sacrificed their time for the sake of this band. The Vanguard’s influence expands outside of the students enrolled, it’s open for anyone to try.


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About the Contributor
Becca Davila-Gay
Becca Davila-Gay, Staff Writer
Rebecca Davila is a junior at Dowling Catholic High School. She is involved in band which includes: Vanguard, symphony band, jazz band, and show band. In her spare time, Becca enjoys reading a good book and spending time with her two older siblings. She is very excited to be writing for the newspaper for her first year! (DSC_0109.jpg)

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