Michelle Owens - Hall of Fame 2019

Created on Monday, 13 May 2019 13:49:14

Dear Cadets Hall of Fame Committee,

We write today on behalf of the hundreds of Cadets color guard performers who had the privilege of being taught by Michelle Owens between 2003 and 2008. It is with great pleasure that we nominate Michelle posthumously for the 2019 Cadets Hall of Fame class for the many reasons enclosed. Though Michelle herself was never a marching member of the Cadets, she proudly embodied the passion, dedication, commitment to excellence, and values of tradition and comradery of a true Cadet. In her 6 seasons as an instructor, she passed these values down to each of us as she undoubtedly shaped the Cadets that we were, inspired the teachers that we would all become, and helped to build the foundation, character, and integrity of the adults we all are today. When we fondly think back to our time at the Cadets, our memories would be incomplete without Michelle’s presence.

Michelle wasn’t just our technician. Over the years she filled many unofficial roles amongst the Cadets guard members – Confidant, motivator, therapist, life coach, shoulder to cry on, advocate, entertainer, number 1 fan, source of light, and yes, even savior. Marching drum corps is admittedly hard, and marching in the Cadets can be even harder, but with Michelle’s attitude we all knew that nothing was impossible with the right outlook. Michelle was the glue of the Cadets color guard all of the years she was involved. Any time we found out she was coming back on the road, celebration ensued, even before her arrival. Knowing she would be with us in a day, or in a week, would bring an instant sigh of relief as we knew we would be cared for and developed in the most nurturing of ways. Just having Michelle nearby made the day better, even if she wasn’t working directly with our sections. On the days when Michelle did work with our sections, it felt as though we had hit the jackpot. She was a ray of sunshine, consistency, and comfort during the long, hot summer days. Her enthusiastic attitude set the tone for rehearsal and she had the ability to make a four-hour sectional fly by. Her spirit and energy spread like a brush fire and no matter how tired we may be, we never minded finding the strength to work hard for Michelle when she was in front of us. She brought smiles, hope, and laughter no matter the weather, our current ranking, or how many days we had already been on the road. There was never a time when you didn’t feel great after a block run by Michelle. A big believer in the mantra of “work hard, play hard,” she instilled in the members the true meaning of work ethic and responsibility without ever losing her love of sport. While she had the sweetest of dispositions, Michelle also had a no-nonsense, tough love approach to getting the job done. When Michelle raised her voice it was rare, and being something we seldom heard, she carefully and strategically chose those moments knowing they held more gravity and power, and we listened. Still, Michelle never belittled or degraded. If Michelle’s tone ever sounded at all forceful in its delivery, it simply came from a place of true passion and always ended with words of motivation. Though our drum corps is known for its intensity and precision, Michelle also made the Cadets fun. Teaching us water break cheers to lighten the mood and make the staff laugh, trying not to giggle when she would see us goofing off mid-practice (secretly winking as she yelled at us to “knock it off”) and constantly reminding us to enjoy ourselves, she could sometimes be the sole reason we got through a grueling day. While so many of Michelle’s silly antics may not have seemed like a big deal at the time, the impression they left all these years later is staggering. Make the best of any situation and smile while doing it — it makes any task enjoyable and any other approach is just a waste of good energy. Our time at the Cadets was more enjoyable because of Michelle.

Michelle gave of herself without ego. No matter the obstacle, we would dig in, work as a team, and get better together. She was always available, staying on the field through many lunch breaks, seeking out those who may have been struggling after shows, and regularly checking in on the rookies and alternates, rather than overlooking them. She was on time each day and she was quite often the last staff member to be found in the gym before ‘lights out’ just in case someone working on their own needed assistance. We can all remember late night sectionals with our lines or with the whole guard after a long marathon day of learning show choreography at Spring Training, well after sleep deprivation had set in and it felt like there was no end in sight. Just when everyone was ready to crack, Michelle would politely walk in and quietly stand back to observe. She was so great at being present but not intrusive. She was respectful of this being “our time” off the clock, and the last thing she wanted was to take over, so she would wait until someone asked for her help before chiming in. She just wanted us to know she was there for us. Michelle always showed up for us. Knowing her value, we would call her right over and she would stay as late as we needed her to, giving up her own downtime when no one would have blamed her for wanting to get some rest. We will never forget her loyalty to us and to the quality of the product we all wanted to put on the field.

Though Michelle’s character and unique personality alone makes her a worthy nominee, it is important to note Michelle’s ability as a skilled and talented technician. Michelle placed a high importance on technique which helped to foster a look and a signature brand in the spinning style of the Cadets of that era. As a sabre tech, she could often be found painstakingly repping finger twirl exercises long after the other sections had moved on to cleaning show work, because she put stock in perfecting the basics. It is also to be noted that Michelle was tasked with cleaning the work of brilliant choreographers like

Greg Lagola and Travis Estler whose books are known for their complicated intricacy and stylistic nuance. She did so by engrossing herself in the process, hopping in the block alongside the members, and learning from our perspective. She never cleaned a skill which she herself could not do - even if it was brand new to her. While many staff members may be concerned with letting their students see them unable to achieve something, Michelle used this to her advantage. She would be delighted by the prospect of increasing her own vocabulary - relentlessly trying new approaches, asking educated questions of the writers, and even partnering with us to figure out best practices until she got it right. In this way, she taught us persistence and showed us that even our staff wasn’t perfect, so it was okay if it took us a moment to get there too. She showed us how to problem solve, and indirectly, she taught us how to be observant learners who don’t back down from a challenge. We knew that if she could get it, we could get it too, no excuses. Michelle was a master at breaking down the counts while never losing the integrity of the work, with the result being some of the cleanest color guard phrases in the modern day Cadets history. Her wholehearted approach and unwavering ambition for excellence were second to none and she made each of us technically better at our craft while helping us reach our full potential as artists and performers.

As a color guard captain for the Cadets there are many expectations and moving parts you are responsible for to help make the color guard as successful as possible, on and off the field. Simply put, it can be a stressful and sometimes thankless job. Often times it could feel like a constant balance between collaborating with our staff and feeling like some days, it was us against them as we worked to stay out of trouble and hide the mistakes of individual members. Michelle, however, always felt like she was part of our team. The true definition of “good cop,” she was an ally that we could lean on if we knew we had no other options. She was asked by each one of us, at one point or another in our respective seasons, to turn a blind eye when she knew we were up to something. As if we were asking her to cross enemy lines, she would give us a quick look of suspicion before inevitably covering for us with the rest of the staff. Secretly, she was honored that we were able to rely on her and she never shared those secrets or betrayed our trust even years later. To this day, so many hilarious and infamous stories of Cadets guards “getting away with murder” included Michelle as our “mole” with which we never could have pulled off such stealthy missions. No matter how much we may have dropped the ball, she helped us without judgment and gave us credit for our creativity. She was a guard captain’s lifeline and an absolute Godsend.

Off the field, Michelle offered more than just sound instruction. While still professional as always, Michelle was also a friend. She could be found most mornings eating breakfast sitting amongst the color guard on a curb by the food truck. She’d grab lunch with different members, being sure to bond and chat with everyone equally. You never knew who Michelle’s favorites were because she treated every one of us like her favorite - like we were all special to her. In the evenings, she could be found playing pranks with the rest of the guard staff or color guard members late into the night. Her infectious laughter making all these memories of our silly after-hours antics that much more memorable. She had a knack for knowing who needed extra attention, checking in with those who may be homesick or battling personal bad days, or sensing when someone could use some light hearted small talk without prying. We can all recall those days when we may have been overwhelmed, or had a rough run, and just having Michelle there if we needed to talk gave us the peace of mind to push through. Michelle started each day with a fresh outlook and clarity of mind and that made it easy for each of us to leave our personal troubles behind as we tackled another long day at the Cadets with our optimistic mentor setting the example for how to stay positive. She took the time to make quality connections with us all and this endeared her to the membership. Beyond our relationships with Michelle, she helped to build our relationships with each other in the family environment that she brought to the guard and helped to cultivate each day. At her core she cared about everyone’s wellbeing and was there to offer empathy, guidance, and affection. She made sure we all knew we had someone in our corner. None of this was in her job description. She went above and beyond to be fully engaged in our complete Cadets experience, not because she had to, but because she loved us.

After we aged out, Michelle always touched base at any marching arts event and was truly interested to get an update on our lives and experiences. She didn’t stop caring about you as a person when they left the organization. Once you were one of Michelle’s “kids” you were her kid for life. Seeing Michelle alongside the corps, always with her beautiful smile, she would go out of her way to make us feel so great, knowing how genuinely excited she was to see us. Even if these reconnections could only be brief, she never lost the ability to make us feel included and appreciated. The master at forming relationships, what was even more impressive was how inept she was in keeping them. It was obvious that she had a deep respect for the activity and the traditions surrounding the Cadets and she embraced anyone who had ties to that family which she now cherished too. As we all moved on in the activity, she continued to cheer us on, build us up with compliments and praise, and she would always be the first to grab a great big hug. She helped to make the Cadets our home, and she made it extra special to come back to that home no matter how much time had passed.

Since then, each and every one of us has continued on as educators in the marching arts. As many of us went on specifically in the medium of drum corps, we quickly and intimately realized how the monotony of the process, the incredibly longs days, and the competitive nature of this activity can really affect you as an instructor. We now can acknowledge how impressive it was that we never saw that impact Michelle in the quality and authenticity of her approach as she took on each day’s new challenge of keeping her students engaged and interested. Michelle’s time at the Cadets not only made us proficient marching members, but more importantly, the lessons we learned from her in that time helped to shape and develop our own teaching styles. In this way, Michelle’s influence translates to and trickles down through our students even today. Looking forward, we are confident that her reach will continue to multiply infinitely through a ripple effect of teachers and performers which will last for decades to come. Some of us were even so fortunate to have the opportunity to eventually teach beside her and know her as a colleague. The Cadets were so lucky to have her as an instructor, and probably at the time didn’t realize the long term impacts she would have on the members she encountered. We now thrive as teachers because we know that great instructors don’t just clean counts, they ignite fires within their students. That passion isn’t learned, but is reflected off those who stand before us and you can’t motivate unless you yourself are inspired. Through Michelle, we have seen the best examples of how to be present, approachable, accessible, accountable, constructive, encouraging, sympathetic, patient, and generously open with our hearts. Through Michelle we have learned to give all members the same level of warmth and attention. We learned to show up, ready to work every day. We learned to give the gift of time to our students as Michelle never said no when being asked for help. Michelle is with us when our kids need someone to talk to, or if we teach a silly cheer to perk up a tired group. She showed us just how effective the “good cop” can be and how much they can get done with an even tone and a shared mutual respect. Michelle taught us that as teachers, instead of, “That was bad” we should say, “You are better than that.” She showed us how much more you can get out of a student by telling them you believe in them, rather than sharing your disappointment in them. Her unstoppable love of color guard was infectious and that love lives on in all of us, every time we step in front of our kids. It was obvious that she cared about each individual performer, and would do whatever possible to make sure they succeeded. We were more to Michelle than dots on a drill page, and her time at the Cadets was more than just a job. She taught us how important it is to not just punch in and instruct, but to teach, nurture, and invest in our students. She taught us that instructors should be more than talented, they should also be kind. She taught us how impactful it is for students to know that we have their backs and that we are their biggest fans. Michelle showed us that the staff and members can, and should, all be on the same team. That taking the extra time to promote an atmosphere in which a team loves each other, and enjoys working together, will result in a team who desires to achieve greatness together. These are qualities we hope to emulate as supportive adults in our kids’ lives and we pray we can make a fraction of the impression on this activity that she has. For many of us, she still continues to be one of the greatest role models we will ever have.

Michelle Owens’ long career involved in performing and teaching drum corps should speak for itself. The 6 years she spent at the Cadets was invaluable for us as members, and for our corps and its rich history, as she forever made her imprint on the culture and reputation of the Cadets Color Guard. It is frankly impossible for us to reflect on our time in maroon and gold without Michelle instantly coming to mind. She is someone we will tell great Cadets stories about for years to come. Her powerful and profound legacy is one of exuberance, compassion, and strength and she would be a tremendous addition to the long list of those legendary Cadets Hall-of-Famers who have come before her. In some way, she has made us all better people through whatever twists of fate allowed us to cross paths with her at just the right time, thanks to the Cadets. She holds such a special and significant place in the hearts of all who were fortunate to be changed by her lasting example. Though we could never adequately express the gratitude we have for Michelle, someone we hold in such esteem, we hope that nominating her for this honor may in some way repay her for the wisdom and kindness she selflessly imparted on us.

On behalf of so many touched by her spirit in the Cadets color guard family, please accept this nomination to accept Michelle Owens into the 2019 Cadets Hall of Fame.

Signed, Cadets Color Guard Captains of the 2000’s

Kelsey Gleason – Cadets Color Guard Member 1998-2003, Guard Captain 2001-2003
Philip Traini - Cadets Color Guard Member 2000-2004, Guard Captain 2004
Jim Zulick - Cadets Color Guard Member 2001-2004, Guard Captain 2004, Drum Major 2005
Kim Bolduc - Cadets Color Guard Member 2003-2005, Guard Captain 2005
Erika Johnsson Coy - Cadets Color Guard Member 2003-2005, Guard Captain 2005
Eric Babula - Cadets Color Guard Member 2002-2007, Guard Captain 2006-2007
Caitlin Bell- Cadets Color Guard Member 2003-2007, Guard Captain 2006-2007
Alison Hunyady Blankenship - Cadets Color Guard Member 2005-2008, Guard Captain 2008
Katie Hopkins - Cadets Color Guard Member 2006-2009, Guard Captain 2008-2009
Abigail Malloy MacLeay - Cadets Color Guard Member 2007-2010, Guard Captain 2010
Ashley Pittman Swengler - Cadets Color Guard Member 2005-2012, Guard Captain 2009-2012
Mallory Yohannan - Cadets Color Guard Member 2007-2012, Guard Captain 2011-2012

For Holy Name Shall Always Be


Dear Committee Members,

It is with great honor that I nominate Michelle Owens Posthumously to the Cadets Hall of Fame Class of 2019. Michelle was a phenomenal educator everywhere she taught.

Michelle had a long career as a performer at The Crossmen Drum and Bugle Corps, and Field of View Winter Guard. She was the quintessential member. Always pushing her self to be the best, while having an infectious energy to everyone around, and the pursuit of excellence.

After years as a model member she continued in the activity in an educational role by giving back to the very program that shaped her. In 1995 Michelle came back to The Crossmen, and worked in various roles throughout her six-year stay with the program. She was a tech, a choreographer, and a Caption Supervisor. But above all of that, she was one of the most compassionate, energetic, passionate people I have ever met in this activity, and has given back so much to everyone who has come in contact with her. Her energy could motivate anyone in any situation. Even on the hottest days of drum corps in the Deep South. There was just something about her that could get a group to do just about anything, and enjoy themselves throughout the whole process.   The summer of 1998 was one of the best summers of my life. That was my first summer of Drum Corps, and I don’t think I would have made it without Michelle that summer, nor would I have been so inspired/ driven to continue four more summers. The confidence, and life skills she instilled in me led me to then march an additional season at The Crossmen, and the next three with The Cadets. Leaving all summer as a teenager can be a scary thing, but the bond that Michelle created with me, and all of the other members was priceless. You could feel her love for the activity, and for each of us coming out of every ounce of her.. I wanted to be like her, and emulate this great leader that I got to learn from.

Michelle had the highest standards, was able to impact thousands of performers over the years, and always left the most amazing impression on everyone she came in contact with.  She radiated this beautiful energy all around her that was mesmerizing. In my eyes (and many others), she is the epitome of a role model.

With great respect, and admiration for the activity we all love, I would like to nominate Michelle Owens to the Cadets Hall of Fame. Let’s celebrate her contributions to our beloved activity, and keep her spirit alive.


Best Regards,

Jean Coulet du Gard
Cadet’s member 2000-2002


Dear Cadets HOF Committee,

I am proud to nominate Michelle Owens for the Cadets Hall of Fame.  It is my honor to recognize one of the finest human beings I have had the privilege to know. She was a performer, director, instructor, choreographer, and designer. Michelle Owens won the affection of others simply by being herself; positive, fun-loving, dedicated and endearing in so many ways.

I first met Michelle in 1994 when I was 16. It was my first year and her age-out year at the Crossmen. We even had a moment at the beginning of the show together! Her smile, determination, laugh, & positive energy were infectious! I was honored to spin with such talent! I had the privilege to have Michelle influence my life and provide me with amazing opportunities including being my instructor at Crossmen, Field of View, and Just Class, teaching with her at Crossmen and Magic of Orlando, assisting at Lassiter High School a few times, & even performing with her in Japan!

As an instructor, Michelle loved practice, hard work, and the opportunity to help the members improve. She “demanded” excellence through her actions of dedication to the members, and they certainly wanted to then give back their best. She was an amazing role model for the students that she taught.  When it was time for the performances, often times she did not want to watch. She always just wanted the best for her students and at that moment it was out of her hands.

I am forever grateful for the time I spent with Michelle Owens as she was truly one of the most genuine, caring, happy, and positive people I have ever met! Like so many people, I was incredibly blessed to have her as a mentor & friend! She helped shape me into the person I am, and I know I am not the only one who feels this way. The amount of lives she touched is incredible!!! I strive to try to live life like Michelle did-- With grace, love, determination, positive energy, and a smile!!!! To truly live life by being present and to treat moments like they are your one and only opportunity! I know Michelle is looking after all of us spreading her love, smile, & sunshine!!!

Michelle left a huge impression and had a tremendous impact on each and every organization she encountered.  Many organizations cherish her as an essential part of their fabric and history. Even though I was not a part of her time at the Cadets, I would imagine that the members and staff also feel this way about Michelle. Michelle’s presence is deeply missed but her spirit and legacy are strong. The many people she befriended and students she taught will continue to be a shining example of all that is good and right in this activity.


Thank you,

Amy Buddock


To Whom it May Concern:

It was about November of 1996, just after aging out of The Cadets, that I truly met Michelle Owens. I had seen her around drum corps and winter venues for many years, but never actually got the chance to know her until that first November Camp when I began teaching The Crossmen. From the moment I met her, that infectious smile had me hooked. She became my friend in an instant… and I am forever grateful.

Michelle was the best example of a “one-of-a-kind” person who I have ever had the privilege to meet. She was simply the kindest, most caring, funniest, most generous and loving people to have graced the color guard world. When I was listening to her teach for the first time, I was astonished… like: “Wow… she is REALLY good and SMART about color guard.” That was evident from count one, so to speak. But, what really got me… far more than the information being given, was HOW it was delivered… her caring and compassion for the members was unparalleled and was consistently shown through her interactions with all those around her. The respect that she was constantly given was earned each and every day and you could see the admiration in the members’ eyes when she spoke to them. The love flowing both toward and from Michelle was palpable. She was a well of joy and happiness that each of us benefitted from every day…

To say that Michelle influenced me as a color guard instructor (and a human) would be a significant understatement. She changed my life so much for the better that I could never have repaid her… nor could I have told her enough, just how much I appreciated the opportunity to be around her. We were together for several years… much of what was on a daily basis as we toured with The Crossmen in 1997 and 1998. She was my very best friend throughout those times and I don’t know that she ever knew how much she did for me. Michelle made me a better teacher… showing me how to give better information, how to have more fun, how to be happier, and simply how to be a better person. She did that to most every person she came in contact with. Her impact on the pageantry world is still evident today and will be for generations to come as those who spent any amount of time with her continue to spread her message of optimism, dedication and love. There is no doubt that I could continue to write for hours about Michelle… all of the memories… ALL OF THE LAUGHS… could easily fill page after page…

I would like to extend my highest recommendation that Michelle Owens be inducted into the Cadets Hall of Fame. She is, without a doubt, a vivid example of what it means to be a Cadet and, even more so, what it means to be the best human you can be. I am honored and proud to write this letter on her behalf. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Sincerely and with great respect,

Derek Smith
CBC Color guard (1995 and 1996)
Crossmen Color Guard Staff (1997 and 1998)


Michelle Owens was a tremendous person with an enigmatic personality and a great love for the drum corps activity. Michelle gave to drum corp what drum corp gave to her: a passion for being great at something, how to be strong under pressure, a balls to the wall work ethic, and a place to build lasting friendships. These values are central to the Cadets and were nurtured in me during my performing years with the organization. Michelle Owens is exemplary of these values and I feel strongly that because of her personal strength, dedication to the youth of the activity, and her positive effect on all of those whom she touched she should be inducted into The Cadets Hall of Fame.                        

Michelle and I performed together only one year, we were roommates for 3 years, and we taught color guard together for many years throughout the east coast. My experiences with her and our close friends were the span of more than 20 plus short years. As a performer Michelle worked and worked and worked. She always took corrections and had the utmost respect not only for those teaching her but also for her fellow performers. She had a quiet strength admired by all. And just when you were having a bad day Michelle knew how to lighten the spirit of everyone and laugh, laugh, laugh. She lead by example and was revered by all of those who performed with and taught her.              

I started teaching with Michelle in 1995. Michelle always taught color guard and I went in and out of teaching depending on what was happening with my life. Every time when I was able to rejoin Michelle I was blown away by how she had evolved into a powerful voice for the groups she taught. That quiet strength and leadership by example was now a loud voice to all of those in her organizations. Michelle didn’t take excuses, expected the same work ethic from everyone, and could be tough, but then she always knew when the kids needed an emotional and/or physical break from things. She understood people.

Teaching with Michelle I always thought that she was an excellent role model for everyone but especially for young women. She stood in front of the kids and staff with strength. The kind of strength where it was easy to trust her knowledge and respect her requests. She nurtured but never coddled. She set expectations high for the kids and knew what the were capable of achieving in a rehearsal and over the season. She spoke to the kids plainly without any sense of being a better person than any one of them. These qualities affected everyone that she came in contact with teaching or in life by showing us that we can replicate these things. Again, leadership by example.

Michelle Owens exemplified strength, hard work, and dedication throughout her life and especially in fighting her cancer. She was a dedicated team member wherever she worked and even more important a dedicated friend. She was full of love, kindness, and laughter. She is not only missed by many people but also remembered by many people. Michelle lives on in all of us, her friends, her students, her family. We miss her. As an alumnus who treasured my experiences at the Cadets and as a person who treasured my experiences with Michelle I would be extremely proud to see her name added to The Cadets’ Hall of Fame.



Craig Biesecker
Cadets ‘92, ‘93, ‘94


As a member of the Cadets from 1990-1995, I was aware of Michelle Owens while she was in the Crossmen, whom we competed against and toured with regularly. Several of my fellow Cadets also marched with her during the winter. I knew her as a strong and talented performer and a good friend to many people I knew.

After aging out, I was asked to become the color guard caption head at the Crossmen in 1996. I finally had the opportunity to get to know Michelle since she was also hired by YEA to be part of my staff. I was apprehensive because she had aged out a year before I did and had spent the previous year teaching the Crossmen. I was concerned that she might resent a newly aged out person from a rival corps coming into her home team and taking over. My concerns were unfounded. Michelle immediately supported me, introduced me to the veteran staff, filled me in on Crossmen history and traditions, and generally helped me assimilate into the organization. She had every reason to resent me or be threatened by me and she certainly had the talent and leadership to run the program herself but she chose to embrace our relationship and act as the glue that held our fledgling team together.

We taught the Crossmen together for three years from 1996-1998. During that time, the Crossmen’s color guard achieved highest placements at DCI. The members adored Michelle. They looked up to her. They respected her. They liked her. She was the good cop to my bad cop and had a subtle but assertive way of helping guide me when I was being too hard on the members or getting too caught up in the wrong details or priorities in our teaching strategy. It wasn’t until years after my time with YEA ended that I truly appreciated the way that Michelle led from the background, contributing without undermining, supporting without competing. I couldn’t have succeeded to the extent that I did without her presence and influence.

Though the Crossmen wasn’t a corps that won championships in those days, there was a sense of pride and identity among the members of the color guards that Michelle and I taught during those years that I had not previously seen from the organization. Michelle’s grounding force and her connection to the history and tradition of the Crossmen were a great synergy with the champion mentality and demand for excellence I acquired during my years at the Cadets. We tempered and complemented each other and the effect on the members was that they believed they were as talented and accomplished as any team they came up against. They didn’t look at the traditional top teams with envy or hero worship. Rather, they considered themselves to be on the same level, commanding the same respect and admiration from their competitors and audiences. That would not have happened if Michelle had not been there to foster that confidence and inspire them.

I was not associated with YEA! during the years when Michelle taught the Cadets. However, the excellence that she inspired in those teams was evident in their performances and the stellar results they achieved. I have no reason to doubt that her commitment to being a team player, a force of cohesiveness, a pillar of support for members and corps leadership, a mentor and inspiration for the members, and her simple goodness as a human being all coalesced to enrich the experience of participating in the activity for everyone involved.


Martin Hughes
Cadets Member 1990-1995
Cadets Colorguard Captain 1995
Crossmen Colorguard Caption Head 1996-1998


My name is Donald Shorter and I writing this letter of recommendation on behalf of Michelle Owens for consideration of being inducted into the Cadets Hall of Fame. I had the pleasure of meeting Michelle in 1996 when I started my first year of marching with the Crossmen Drum and Bugle Corps as a member of the color guard. I was a young gay kid from a small town in New Jersey who never felt like I fit in anywhere until I marched with the Crossmen (1996-1999). During this time I was surrounded by so many brilliant members, teachers, artists, musicians, as well as a a kind and loving staff. Over the course of my four year journey with the Crossmen I had one teacher who was there the entire time. That was Michelle.

As a teacher, she instilled in me a work ethic like none other. Through her, I learned that drum and bugle corp was a way of life and that spinning a rifle, flag, and sabre was a mode of self-expression. Most of my time with Michelle was spent during sabre blocks where she taught me stellar technique (how to catch on the tape). I’ll never forget how much joy she brought to her pedagogy. Even during those grueling tours that consisted of 14 hour days in extreme heat, she always managed to exhibit a positive attitude. This positivity was infectious and would be what allowed us to endure many difficult days when we wanted to give up or quit.

As a marching member, there are times when you don’t want to see or be around your staff but that was never the case with Michelle. We always wanted to have her around when we had a free day, during lunch, or after a show when we could kick it at the food truck.

Now that I’ve grown older, I’ve been able to see Michelle’s dedication to the pageantry arts. She continued to keep color guard at the forefront of her life. Her passion for color guard has been passed down to several generations that spans states, cities, and countries. Any organization she was a part of was lucky to have her because she knew how to connect with each and every student, parent, and staff member while always being a positive energy. As someone who has been taught by Michelle as well as taught with her, I’ve learned that what we do is more than just counts and tosses. We are able to enrich the lives of the students we teach by giving them confidence by letting them know they can do anything they put their minds to.                        

After marching with the Crossmen I’ve gone on to be a professional dancer and was a principal dancer with the Bill T. Jones Arnie Zane Dance Company and have gone on to work with Phildanco, The Sean Curran Dance Company, and Crystal Pite. I’ve been in Broadway national tours such as: A Chorus Line, La Cage Aux Folles, Hairspray, and Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I have earned a graduate degree in Dance from New York University Tisch School of the Arts on a Dean’s Fellowship and I am now an Assistant Professor of Dance at Sam Houston State University. None of this would have been possible had it not been for marching under the direction of Michelle Owens and being apart of the Crossmen Drum and Bugle Corp. She was a friend, mentor, and someone I’m eternally grateful for having in my life.


Thank you,

Donald C. Shorter Jr.


To Whom It May Concern:

I had the distinct honor of being able to march, be taught, and to teach alongside Michelle with The Crossmen Drum and Bugle Corps, Field of View Winterguard, and the North Penn High School Band/Colorguard programs. In addition, I had many opportunities to see Michelle teach with the Cadets and without question, she was one of the finest instructors I’ve ever had the privilege to teach with or witness instruct. I know that her dedication to every program that she taught went above and beyond. I had the opportunity of seeing her on many occasions teach the Cadets and even spoke to students that she had taught at the Cadets and there was one common thread; a unanimous ‘I LOVE MICHELLE’ along with a huge smile Michelle had a way of not only becoming that 'favorite instructor' but also being the 'memorable instructor' who could instantly make a group feel better mentally and physically while at the same time cleaning guard work and drill and taking it to a completely new level!

Members who had the opportunity of learning under Michelle were able to experience something that doesn’t come around often: a combination of love of the activity, a huge knowledge base,  an insight into every aspect of performance, but most importantly genuineness and sincerity that were unmatched. Michelle was known to come early and stay late at practices to work with members that needed extra help. She was always completely selfless in this regard and quite frankly every regard. She had a unique way about her that allowed her to connect to so many different people with so many varying personalities which I know from personal experience helped unite so many staffs together in ways that they would have never been able to and I know this was the same with The Cadets.

While I marched and taught The Crossmen I have come to know, understand, appreciate, and respect the ideology, and the history of The Cadets and while Michelle was not an alumnus of the corps I'm fairly certain that any instructor, member, or administrator of The Cadets that knew Michelle would agree she exhibited the very best qualities that anyone would want in a member of the hall of fame as much as any Cadet!

I wholeheartedly feel that Michelle Owens would be an incredible addition to the Cadets Hall of Fame.

Brian Stoudt

Crossmen Alumni (Staff and Member)
Field of View Alumni
Former Director of the North Penn High School Colorguard and Visual Ensemble


Dear Selection Board,

I am writing this letter in hopes of getting Michelle Owens inducted into the Cadets Hall of Fame. I had the honor of working with Michelle in the Crossmen Drum and Bugle Corp in 96 and 97, when the Crossmen were under the YEA! umbrella.  She was an amazing educator to not only the members of the corps but to the staff as well. She never let things get to her and always had to ability to listen with respect and without judgment. Michelle loved the activity and even more enjoyed the growth in members as well as her fellow staff members. I got to spend some more time with Michelle, when she came out to work with my HS in Reno NV. I just sat back and watched her do what she does best, which is inspire young performers.  The smile and happiness my students had was a testament to Michelle’s approach to educating in the activity. She never changed, she was like that in the Cadets as well.

Michelle Owens will for always be an influence in my life and in others as well. Who better to deserve this prestigious award than Michelle Owens.



Javier A Sosa
Cadets CG Alumni 92,93,94 and 95

To Cadets HOF Committee:

I would like to posthumously nominate former color guard instructor Michelle Owens to be considered into the Cadets Hall of Fame.

In every organization, there are multiple instructors you encounter over your time marching that also play different roles within the corps history, which are vital to its growth and success. Over the years, many individuals have served in the various roles to help the Cadets color guard reach and sustain their continued success. Michelle is one of the most respected Cadets guard staff members of all time.

In 2003, Michelle joined the color guard staff of the Cadets. Coming from other great originations prior, she quickly became a valuable addition to our organization. Michelle helped lead the color guard to top DCI finishes during her six consecutive Summers on staff. She was instrumental in helping our color guard achieve the High Guard award in 2005. The position that Michelle filled with our guard was a very detailed and complex role that called for someone of extreme work ethic and reliability, someone with attention to detail and a desire to consistently reach not only their goals but to also help the rest of our group reach our cumulative goals. Michelle also held a high level of energy and professionalism at all times. There was always a smile on her face and she was one of the friendliest people I have ever known.

Despite the overwhelming amount of work and energy needed to teach drum corps all summer, Michelle always made sure the members of our guard were in good spirits. Was it tough love? Of course, but it was handled with grace. I can fondly recall marching under her leadership at Crossmen in 2000. In more difficult times, Michelle actually had the task of informing me of my grandmother’s passing. I will never forget how gentle and kind she was to me as she had to tell me of such painful news during a rest break in Florida.

I have come to find that typically the staff members do not always learn the choreography of the shows. However, Michelle would always make it a point to get involved and made it a point to learn the choreography along with the students. She showed me how helpful it was to her students that she actually knew those checkpoints and “easier ways” to grasp onto our difficult choreography. She was a “sabre diva,” and we were all in awe as she spun. The other Cadets color guard members and I will forever remember her finger-twirl exercises.

I can honestly not imagine what it would have been like marching my summer of Cadets and Crossmen without having Michelle there. Her countless hours of teaching, energy, patience and love for the activity is unmatched. She loved the Cadets and all her students.



Todd J Winder
The Cadets Guard 04-05


To the Cadets Hall of Fame Committee:

It is my great pleasure to write this letter of support in posthumously inducting Michelle Owens into the Cadets Hall of Fame.

I met Michelle during the summer of 1995 when I was marching Cadets. She was an instructor at Crossmen along with a good friend of mine, so I found myself spending a lot of time with her after shows. Even though we had just met, she was a great source of support as I was struggling to succeed in my first year at this high-caliber organization.

I was unable to return to the Cadets in 1996 due to my collegiate course load, but I did have the opportunity to march the second half of the summer with Crossmen, where Michelle was still an instructor. Michelle was a patient, cheerful, and thorough teacher. She was essential in getting me quickly integrated into the show, and always willing to go above and beyond.

In 1998 Michelle and I were instructors together at Field of View color guard. I was already familiar with Michelle as an instructor and having the opportunity to teach alongside of her and learn from her example was extraordinary. Michelle was able to write, teach, and clean equipment work with a constant smile on her face. She had an infectious positivity like no one I have known before or since. She was greatly respected by the members, her fellow instructors, and the pageantry community.

I was lucky enough to reconnect with Michelle in 2015 at David Byrne’s Contemporary Color in Toronto. She was once again working with Field of View color guard. Michelle and I had not seen each other in at least 10 years and she was unchanged! She had the same bright smile, the same infectious positivity, and the same commitment to color guard and the pageantry arts.

I had the privilege of knowing Michelle Owens as a friend, a teacher, and a co-worker. It amazes me that she was able to transcend all of these roles with the same patience, grace, humor, and alacrity.  Although Michelle was taken from us many years too soon, we are lucky that she crossed paths with so many people and that her influence is still being shared widely throughout the pageantry arts.

Michelle’s induction into the Cadets Hall of Fame is well deserved and I think it would be the perfect way to honor her positive impact on the organization.


Respectfully yours,

Mark Hamberger
1995 Cadets, Colorguard


To whom it may concern:

I am writing to show and express my support for Michelle Owens to be inducted in the Cadets Hall of Fame.  What a beautiful soul to be considered. Michelle had this glow about her that always made you feel special and important.

While marching the Cadets Color Guard in the late 90’s then becoming a member of Cadet Guard Staff in 2000. I was fortunate to get to meet and learn from Michelle. I remember being so impressed with her teaching choreography and running the Crossmen at the time. You could see how passionate she was about color guard.

Like many others,  Michelle definitely impacted me through my teaching career. I definitely looked up to Michelle as a role model in this activity.  

Years passed as I went to do other things. In 2008 I was asked to return to Cadet Guard Staff. It was that summer I had the honor to work with Michelle. Of course right away Michelle made me feel so welcomed. I remember we were always laughing about something on and off the field. But it was working alongside, I got see why she was so impactful at teaching.  It wasn’t just her knowledge and ability to get the performers to achieve something.   It was her special way of always making connections with each member every day. She also had this unique and loving way to get the members to believe in themselves.   She was always one of their biggest cheerleaders on and off the field. Michelle was a big part in making sure the performers' experience was a fun and memorable one.

I witnessed her inspire so many students for the next few summers. Not only did Michelle inspire students she also inspired me to be a better teacher and a human being.

This letter is just a few example of the many great and memorable things she did so naturally and with much love. I hope you accept my letter in support of Michelle Owens being inducted into the Cadets Hall Of Fame.


Warm Regards,

Daniel Riley
The Cadets of Bergen County ‘97 ‘99
The Cadets Guard Staff ‘00, ‘02, ‘08 - ‘12


To whom it may concern,

When asked what our activity is about you think of the following: Loyalty, commitment, passion, dedication, hard work, and most of all unconditional love.

Michelle is an example of all the above and more! It is truly hard to put into words what an impact she has had on our activity. Her loyalty and love for the activity, and most of all the students she has taught is untouchable. Daily she gave them all the best she could only in hopes to receive simply a smile back; although, years later, she always receive letters thanking her from past students, and seeing a tear of joy in a child’s eyes when they “GOT IT”.  

For many years, she worked for free, and in fact, gave her own money to help those who have needed it. I remember while on tour, someone lost their towel and was super sad at practice. Michelle told me she would be right back. She went to the store and bought him two and said, now let’s work on what really matters. The child felt like a rock star all day! And this happened on several occasions.  

When practice was over, Michelle was never done! She was the last one on the field helping people, the last one on the staff bus because she was helping people even when shows were over.  She was on the side somewhere helping a member who didn’t do their best because she wanted them to feel better and have a good night sleep knowing they got it right.

Sure, I can list all the trophies she has won, list the groups she has taught, but I would NEVER be able to list the impact she has had on so many in the activity that she has taught and how she has and will continue to impact those who didn’t even know her but now know her story.

That is what a hall of fame member is all about.



April Martinez
Cadets Hall of Fame 2004


Dear Cadets Hall of Fame Committee,          

I’m honored to be supporting the nomination of Michelle Owens posthumously to the Cadets Hall of Fame.

Michelle taught the Cadets as a guard technician from 2003-2008. She also supported guard members financially through sponsorships from 2003-2016.

Michelle was part of a team that produced some of the best guards The Cadets ever had. Michelle was loved by all because of the way she taught. Always demanding but with a warmth and a charm that was inviting to all. I can't tell you the countless people through the years who have said Michelle was their favorite instructor. She got the best out of the members because she supported them. Michelle would take the time to individually help those that needed it. She learned every count of the show so she could first hand understand the issues the performers were having so she could be very specific on how to make the members better performers.

Aside from building great performers, Michelle also believed her role was to mold these young people into strong, independent, caring human beings. She was always there to help the members get through the daily grind of tour, whether it be a supportive listener, a confidante with words of encouragement, a shoulder to cry on or a simple hug or smile. Michelle was there to care for the members. She was an all-around great educator and an asset to The Cadets.

Michelle taught young people for 26 years through multiple platforms of drum corps, winter guard and marching band. She loved this activity and she approached it with a positive attitude, encouraging spirit and genuine heart.    

In September of 2015 Michelle was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She lost that battle a year later in September of 2016 at the age of 43. Michelle’s personality was one that was always giving to others. She was always more concerned with how you were doing and what was going on in your life than herself. It is with this simple character that she was loved by all who met her. Michelle had a smile that could light up a room and made people feel good. I speak of this because Michelle’s love, support and kindness to others, came back tenfold to her from her pageantry arts family as she battled cancer. So many people from Michelle’s past reached out to her. It was a testament to the lives she touched through the years. It was also a true awakening for both of us that if you lead a good life and care for others, you will truly be remembered. Michelle’s was a life cut short but a life well lived.

Michelle has been celebrated these last 2 and half years in many ways. And our Cadet organization has contributed as well, a group of our Cadet alumni planted a Remembrance Tree in Allentown Park where the guards warm up for DCI East. The corps also honored Michelle by placing remembrances on their food truck and equipment truck. Michelle was a person that made a difference and had a significant impact on many lives. I think she is an exceptional candidate for the Cadets Hall of Fame.


Thank you for your consideration,

Jeff Sacktig
The Cadets, Member, Instructor, Visual Designer 1986-2015 Cadets2, Visual Designer 2012-2016
Cadets Winter Percussion, Visual Designer 2016
Cadets Hall of Fame 2008
DCI Hall of Fame 2015


Cadets Hall of Fame Nominations Committee,

I would like to submit my letter of recommendation to nominate Michelle Owens to the Cadets Hall of Fame.

I don’t actually recall when I really got to know Michelle. But I want to say that the first time I knew who she was, was around 1995 when the Cadets and the Crossmen shared spring training sights. My years could be off. But I was teaching the Cadets at the time and she the Crossmen. I always knew who she was but it was around this time that I knew there was something special about her watching her teach the members of the Crossmen. They just loved her.

Michelle was a special soul and she brought joy wherever she went. She didn’t even have to say anything. It could just be that twinkle in her eye or that beautiful smile that would just light up a room. Such a warm and loving person. And anyone and everyone that ever met her would just love her from that first hello. Through the years, I always loved whenever I would get a chance to catch up with her. She really cared about what was going on in your life and always took a moment to listen.

She brought this same special spirit to each person she ever taught. I remember when Michelle came to teach the Cadets because this was a big deal. Michelle and her family grew up at the Crossmen. So, for her to move over to the “dark side” this was a big deal. But Michelle taught and loved each and every member of the Cadets. It did not matter what color their corps jacket was. All that mattered was that they were cared for and she made sure of it.

The last time that I got to spend with Michelle was the weekend of our dear friend, Emma Roberts’ wedding in Florida. It was just a special weekend. I got to spend the weekend with her, Jeff Sacktig, Jonathon Schwartz and Katie Hopkins. We just had such a great time. Laughing, telling old stories about our experiences with the Cadets and just having fun. Lots of laughs and love was shared that weekend that I will cherish forever.

Michelle truly embodied what it meant to be a Cadet. And for this I truly believe is absolutely deserves to be a member of the hall of fame.



Christine (Higgins) Tetzlaff Cadet Guard Member 1987, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992
Cadet Guard Staff 1993 - 1999
Director of Operations 2000 - 2004
Cadet Hall of Fame Member


HOF committee,

This letter is to support the nomination of Michelle Owens into the Cadets Hall of Fame!

When one thinks of the Cadets, they think of hard work, commitment and passion. They think of talent, excellence and teamwork. When one thinks of Michelle Owens... they think those exact same things.

Michelle was an integral part of the Cadets guard staff for many, many years. I had the privilege of sharing the teaching field with her and remember those memories with nothing but smiles and laughter. She was a constant. She was so dedicated and reliable and was always there when you needed her. She would support the corps, the staff and most importantly, the members. If someone was having a bad day, you could count on her to sit quietly with them and offer words of encouragement or to find a way to make them laugh. She was the motherly figure and the kids in the corps absolutely adored her.

Michelle had to leave the physical world too soon. We are all missing her smile and sweet and contagious energy. I truly believe that the drum corps and color guard community lost an amazingly influential person.

I believe that if we place Michelle into the Cadets Hall of Fame.. we can continue to honor her memory and legacy for years to come.



Emma Martinez
Cadets member 97-2000
Cadets Guard Staff 2001-2012
Cadets Hall of Fame 2017


To whom it may concern,

I am submitting this letter in support toward nominating Michelle Owens for the Cadets Hall of Fame. I marched in the Cadets in 1992, and I taught the corps in 2001 and 2015. Michelle passed away in 2016 and was a great friend to the pageantry arts, the Cadets, and many individuals throughout DCI, WGI, and pageantry all over the world. While her passing left a hole unable to be filled, her life left a huge impact on the marching arts and the hundreds of lives she helped nurture, support, educate, and mentor.                        

Michelle taught at the Cadets from 2003 to 2008. And in that time, she helped The Cadets earn a DCI Championship as well as a Zingali High Colorguard Trophy. Her kind spirit and teaching style were model traits for educators in the pageantry arts. She connected with her students and made them feel valued and respected. She was creative in finding new ways to reach students and help them fully realize their potential. Still somewhat in a time when teaching methods in the activity were sometimes gruff or out of “tough love,” Michelle taught with love and respect, and because of this her students sought to give their all. She was a role model to so many young women, who saw her success and achievements in this activity as something they could aspire toward. And I truly believe Michelle was a model of “what a Cadet should be”—both on and off the rehearsal field.

In the many years that Michelle was active in DCI and WGI, she helped educate so many of today’s top colorguard instructors. The effects of Michelle’s dedication to her students can be felt today in the successful programs, directors, and staffs all over the country. The ripple effects of her craft, skill, motivation, and care as a teacher and designer will live long after her. I feel that one of most important things we can do in this activity is make a resounding, positive effect on the lives of others. And for these lasting impacts of her career, I feel it only fitting that she be recognized and nominated for the Cadets Hall of Fame.



Rick Subel


Cadets Hall of Fame Committee,

I would like to submit Michelle Owens to be considered for the Cadets Hall of Fame.

This comes to you from someone who witnessed her contribution directly. I witnessed her deep commitment and dedication to the Cadets but I also witnessed her impact on the entire pageantry community. She was special. I would add very, very, special.

Her years as an instructor for the Cadets color guard were in 2003 through 2008. These are dates that indicate the passage of time. What they don’t measure is how a person has impacted those around them. How a person built a deep connection from fellow staff members and deeper admiration, respect and love from performers who benefitted from Michelle’s passionate dedication. She impacted all.

To put in a simple phrase, it was the power of her heart to care with the most genuine connection and empathy. Her warm smile and loving nature always came through to all she met. She would be on the field with individuals helping them to figure out a phrase or calming them to a place where they found their center or supporting them in a difficult personal matter. She not only had a broad perspective to get the ensemble to perform at a high level but more importantly it was her scope of bringing it down to the individual. I would add that she led by example, always showing fellow members and performers that there was a way to overcome obstacles.

I can recall one small specific incident in Johnstown PA in spring training in 2008. It was a very early morning and I was driving by the turf field and saw two people on the field. One was going through their routine and another was coaching. It was misty, a morning fog was on the field and it was a chilly. A Cadet member was being coached by Michelle. I came to find out later that this young performer asked for assistance and Michelle agreed to assist her before the corps got up for their breakfast. She said it was the best time. They met an hour before wake up as the sun just started to rise and Michelle gave this young Cadet special focus. That’s the kind of instructor Michelle was, without any hesitation. This is just one small example of dozens I witnessed over the years Michelle was on the Cadet staff.

Like a pebble dropped into a pond, Michelle’s influence in the Cadets resonated for many and to this day those ripples keep pushing personal and professional boundaries to those she inspired. That’s the spirit of Michelle. People all over our activity either in marching band, color guard or drum corps knew Michelle and were touched by her presence. They met her or crossed paths with her and they simply cannot forget Michelle Owens.  

We lost Michelle in 2016 to ovarian cancer. To amplify the point of the way she lived her life, even in dealing with this cancer she did so in loving kindness and shared her journey with the world in the hope it would be of benefit to those who suffered as she did. We witnessed what this brave young person was in her essence and why she is special to our community. When we consider the qualities to be a member of the Cadets, present and past and what virtues we would want from a member of our community; I believe Michelle Owens is the model.

I strongly recommend Michelle Owens to the Cadets Hall of Fame and ask you give her the consideration she justly deserves.


Thank you,

Eric Kitchenman
2007, 2008 Cadets Associate Program Coordinator
2009 Cadets Visual Staff


To Whom It May Concern,

It is my honor to write this letter of support for the induction of Michelle Owens into the Cadets Hall of Fame.

There are people in life that simply make you a better person just by being around them - Michelle Owens was one of those people. She embodied all of the qualities and more that someone would associate with being a Cadet. But more than the craft, the skill, the organization or history, Michelle was dedicated to the person.

It’s undoubtable that Michelle made a lasting contribution to pageantry through her teaching at Lassiter High School, The Cadets, Crossmen, and numerous other high school and Independent Guards in her career. And while you could make the argument that there are some people that achieved more “material” success in their careers than Michelle, more importantly Michelle achieved infinitely more in terms of what she has done personally for countless students, colleagues and friends in our activity. I was blessed to be around her during my time at the Crossmen and in small fragments that I was her over the years with Jeff. You could always count on her smile and her kindness, her ability to brighten the environment simply by being there. She was taken from this earth too soon, but she left a legacy of grace and kindness, support and motivation, dedication and a pursuit of excellece that will affect our activity for decades to come.

Michelle instilled in us the very qualities that much of our society is sadly lacking. She reminded you to smile instead of wearing a fron. She reminded you to think of others first instead of thinking of yourself first. She looked for the good in people instead of seeing the worst. She could bring you up at the end of a rough day instead of piling on the troubles.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Michelle Owens is highly deserving of this honor. It is without hesitation that I support her induction into the Cadets Hall of Fame, Class of 2019.



Michael J. Klesch
Cadets Hall of Fame, Class of 2003
DCI Hall of Fame, Class of 2012


Dear Cadets HOF Committee,

I am writing in support of posthumously adding Michelle Owens to The Cadets Hall of Fame.

During my time marching in the drum corps, I was able to observe Michelle as an instructor. She stood out as an enthusiastic and positive coach for the color guard. During long, hot days she could be counted on to bring light-heartedness and joy to the practice field. She earned and retained the respect of each member of  The Cadets’ color guard.

One of the gifts that drum corps has given me is the honor of carrying on its rich history. When memories fade and championship rings and banners are left to rest in storage, the focus of that historical picture is the individuals who dedicate their lives to the progression and endurance of the activity. Have been involved in drum corps as an educator and marching member for 12 straight seasons, I am aware of the sacrifice and energy that it takes to continue to push on, innovate and make the experience special for the next generation of great performers. I feel as though this is a passion that Michelle demonstrated during her more than 20 years serving the activity.

In a culture wrought with competition and division, memorable drum corps figures are often polarizing. I feel as though this is an important moment for The Cadets and DCI to celebrate and honor individuals who ALWAYS promote unity, encouragement, positivity and growth. Michelle Owens, my friend with the unforgettable smile, is among them and is a worthy hall-of-famer.



James “J.P.” Crowley
Cadets Baritone 2008-2009
Cadets Brass Staff 2011-2016


To Whom It May Concern:      

I am writing in support of the posthumous nomination of Michelle Owens to the Cadets Hall of Fame. As a marching member of the Cadets Color Guard from 2004–2007 and a staff member from 2008–2009, Michelle was my instructor, my mentor, my colleague, and, most wonderfully, my friend. She truly embodied the best of what The Cadets can be, and worked tirelessly to bring those qualities out in others.                        

My relationship with Michelle began when I was a rookie on the Cadets flag line in 2004. To say we were a motley bunch is a bit of an understatement, and I imagine standing in front of us day in and day out was a Herculean task. Michelle, ever patient, helped me not just to survive that summer, but to find the joy in hard work and to see the silver lining of a difficult task. She balanced every correction with a smile and a joke, and would check in to make sure everything was ok on particularly tough days. I always think of Michelle when teaching my own students the “Rings of Saturn” maneuver—she spent countless hours with me making sure I understood that move, always with her signature smile!                        

When I aged out and joined the color guard staff, I had the absolute pleasure of working side by side with Michelle. This picture from Spring Training of 2008 is one of my favorites of Michelle and I because it perfectly captures how we spent that summer. I have so many wonderful memories of her, but some of the best were just the two of us standing in the end zone together watching the flag line - the laughs, the frustrations, all the lessons she taught me. She taught me so much that summer about what it means to be a teacher—the patience required, the hours after rehearsal trying to figure out the best way to approach the next day, reading the mood of the team and adjusting to make sure everyone was having the best experience. She was the first person at the field before rehearsal and the last one to leave, and her example made me want to be better every day.

For her dedication to the Cadets Color Guard, for her constant pursuit of excellence, for the way she made everyone feel welcome and loved, I cannot think of a better addition to the Cadets Hall of Fame than Michelle Owens. I thank you for your consideration.



Brian Forte
The Cadets
Member 2004-2007
Color Guard Staff 2008-2009


To the Cadets Hall of Fame Committee,

It is with great honor that I write this letter in support of Michelle Owens’ induction into the Cadets Hall of Fame.

I first met Michelle as a member of The Cadets. She was teaching The Crossmen and we were sharing our Spring Training facilities. She was an undeniably positive presence on all those she crossed paths with. There were no lines between Cadets, Crossmen, brass, percussion, or color guard. Everyone mattered and felt valued when in her presence.

In 2002, I had the pleasure of working with Michelle as a twenty-two year old instructor at the Magic of Orlando. I felt incredibly lucky to have her guidance when trying to find my way addressing the corps regarding their visual performance. Michelle extended the same incredible warmth and depth of knowledge she shared with her color guard members to the “kids” trying to transition into understanding the complexities inherent in teaching and cleaning drill from the box. She made us all feel empowered by her knowledge without ever feeling overwhelmed. She made sure there was quality information given to all sections, and educated us on what we needed to be looking for and valuing in a color guard. Michelle’s ability to influence members AND instructors was both powerful and positive.

Over the next five years, Michelle and I worked together several more times at The Cadets where I continued to see her incredible spirit impact countless others while helping the Cadets continue to be a corps based in passion, hard work, and excellence. I implore you to consider placing the remarkable Michelle Owens in the Cadets Hall of Fame, as I believe we should be as proud of her legacy with the corps as she was to be a part of The Cadets.



Brad Toth
The Cadets, Soprano 97,99,00; Drum Major 2001
Cadet of the Year 2000, 2001
Cadets Visual Instructor 2003, 2004
Cadets Brass Staff 2006
Blue Knights Brass Caption Head 2012-2017
Phantom Regiment Brass Caption Head 2018-Present


Dear HOF election committee,

I am writing to you today to endorse Michelle Owens for the Cadets Hall of Fame. I worked with Michelle at Cadets for a number of seasons and of course not only knew and loved her as a colleague but also as a friend. Michelle’s warmth, professionalism, personality, and passion to whatever she put her mind to were inspirational, not only to me, but more importantly to all the students she affected throughout her time with the Cadets. To be honest, I feel Michelle most strongly embodied the true spirit of what it meant to be a Cadet and to represent the ideals of hard work, commitment to excellence, and sportsmanship that we all strive towards.

On a personal level, simply put, I adored her. I cannot think of a time that she wasn’t smiling or laughing with the members or the staff, or just creating a positive and happy environment which touched everyone around her. I count myself lucky to have known her and to have called her a friend.

I warmly recommend her to the Cadets Hall of Fame.



Gregory Lagola
Cadets Hall of Fame member, class of 2013


Dear Cadets Hall of Fame Committee,

It is with great honor that I write this letter to nominate Michelle Owens for induction to the Cadets Hall of Fame 2019.

I have met many incredible people during my travels from Britain to march and teach within the DCI community but I can honestly say that there was something very special about Michelle Owens that made her stand out for both myself, and I know thousands of others.

I first met Michelle at Spring training in the mid-nineties when ‘The Cadets’ shared their rehearsal facility with their YEA! sister group ‘The Crossmen’. I, like countless others, was incredibly shy and slightly overwhelmed by the enormity of what I had started. The two Corps shared (somewhat awkwardly) the same food truck and I vividly remember a young Crossmen instructor taking it upon herself, single handily to be the gel that bonded the two groups together. This young woman was there in the morning with the biggest smile and would mingle with every single member of both groups, getting to know each individual, finding out (and remembering) everyone’s names. She was funny, warm, caring and interested in everyone’s backgrounds and stories. I personally had British friends that had marched with her in 1990-93 Crossmen and she used this connection as a way of making me feel at home and comfortable at the start of my new adventure. This special woman was Michelle Owens.

Michelle had a unique gift of sharing love and warmth unlike anyone I have ever known - It radiated from her as she entered any space. Michelle understood emotional intelligence and the power of relationships in a way that allowed her teach and facilitate growth in her members and colleagues far beyond that of simply technique and clean counts. I learnt to realise this embodied who Michelle was and this incredible energy and passion to brighten up others’ lives was her gift to the world of pageantry, the performing arts and of course The Cadets.

Having known Michelle throughout my marching years, it was a thrill to be able to finally teach with her at The Cadets from 2003-2007. Our Corps instantly became a better place on Michelle’s arrival. The same energy, warmth, love and pastoral care of our young people that had defined her relentless teaching style allowed her students to chase their dreams and goals with a confidence and sense of fun that was infectious to all.

I cannot think of anyone that is more deserving of a place in the Cadets Hall of Fame than Michelle Owens. Every single person that has met Michelle - whether a member, instructor, volunteer or otherwise is a better person for knowing her.

Michelle is the absolute standard of humanity and indeed the vision of how I would like my children to grow up and emulate.

I thank you profusely for your consideration.


Jon Bilby
The Cadets, Member 1996-98
Cadet of the Year 1998
Cadets Visual Instructor 1999-2007, 2011,14-17
Cadets Hall of Fame 2017
Cadets2, Visual Designer 2018


Dear Cadets HOF Committee,

My name is Aaron Gantt and I was a member of the color guard from 2002-2003.  I’d like to nominate Michelle Owens for posthumous induction into the Cadets Hall of Fame. Michelle taught the guard from 2003-2008 during that time she had a profound impact on the members that came through the organization.  

I had the privilege of having her in my life from 2003 until she died in 2016.  I first met Michelle in 2003 at April camp. I remember her walking in and watching the guard, there was this huge grin that she had on her face.  Later I’d learn that it was very rare to not see her with that smile for which she was so well known. By the time she came to Cadets she had already been a Color Guard Caption Head at other drum corps and she knew what was needed as a staff member.  Michelle exemplified every aspect of what it means to be a Cadet. She always did whatever was needed of her, with 100% attention to detail. She didn’t complain about the role she was needed in, she served it to the best of her ability and with a smile.  She was there with us, in the trenches learning the choreography, making us laugh, holding us accountable, helping us by teaching those lessons not only through words but through her own actions. She did that every summer, showing all of us that your mindset is what gets you through.  

In 2016 Michelle lost her battle with Ovarian Cancer and I traveled from Austin, Texas to attend her service in Atlanta.  I was simply astounded by how many people were there and all with the same stories as mine. There hasn’t been one Cadet that was taught by her that hasn’t shared with me similar experiences.  She impacted all of us in such a positive way that I know it has spread through our entire activity. If you want to have a sampling of just how much she was loved, treasured, and revered watch the 2019 Production Flanagan High School performed in the Scholastic World WGI Competition in Dayton, Ohio.  In their show they had a segment where they featured people who had an impact on peoples lives in the activity. Michelle’s was one of the last pictures shown and it received so much applause.

She was one of the good ones, one of the rarest types of people that practice unconditional love to everyone they meet.  She accepted you for where you were and taught you how to get to where you needed to be. She was a force to be reckoned with and she will be a name that inspires our community for ages.  I would not be the teacher/friend/peer/colleague that I am without her guidance and example. Even after being given an unfavorable outcome she fought it like a Cadet. Never blaming others or asking for sympathy about her illness, instead fighting with determination, bravery, and dignity.  Still making time for those that she taught and loved so much. I can’t think of a better person more deserving of this honor.



P. Aaron Gantt
Cadets 2002-2003


To whom it may concern,

When I received a message that Michelle Owens has been nominated for the Cadets Hall of Fame, I instantly knew she deserves this honor. I highly recommend Michelle Owens for this honor.

I march in the Cadets Color Guard form 2004-2006 and Michelle was my main saber tech. She was a huge person in my success story as a Cadet.  As a Cadet we are taught to be determined, trustworthy, have self-discipline, and to be committed to excellence. Michelle had all these qualities and many more. She was always willing to go the extra length to make sure that the members had want they needed to be successful. Whether that be emotionally or physically, Michelle was the “mother” to all of us. She also pushed us to be the best versions of ourselves. Her kind and loving sprit was contagious and no matter how the “bad” the day was she was able to see the positive and talk about the lessons learned. She held the same standard for us as she did for herself as an instructor. Michelle’s commitment was evident everyday she was out there supporting and teaching the members. She truly was a magical person that allowed me to become the person and teacher that I am today. The lessons that I learned from her went far beyond the ability to spin in time. I am forever grateful to have known Michelle.  Even though Michelle is no longer with us, I know that the lessons learned will continue to go on. I strongly recommend Michelle Owens to the Cadets Hall of Fame. I cannot think of anyone that embodies the attributes to be inducted into this amazing group of people.


Thank you,

Michael Zablocki
CBCCG 2004-2006


To Whom It May Concern,

I would like to posthumously nominate Michelle Owens into the Cadets Hall of Fame. I was a member of the color guard from 2005 – 2008, aging out as one of the color guard captains in 2008. As a color guard captain for The Cadets there are many expectations and moving parts you are responsible for to help make the color guard as successful as possible on and off the field. Often times it could feel like it was you against the staff, except for Michelle.

Michelle was a ray of sunshine, consistency, and comfort during the long, hard, hot days of the summer. Not only was Michelle amazing as a technician but her positive attitude set the tone for rehearsal and had the ability to make a four-hour sectional fly by. Reflecting on my own teaching style, I can only hope Michelle’s influence translates to the students. Her legacy is one of kindness, compassion, and caring. Additionally, after aging out Michelle always touched base at any marching arts event and was truly interested to get an update on your life. She didn’t stop caring about you as a person after you left the organization.

I vividly remember during my age out I was feeling downtrodden and frazzled after a show where the color guard did not have their best run. Michelle was sitting by the food truck and could tell I was struggling. She came up to me and just chatted, about everything and nothing. At her core she cared about everyone’s well being and was there to offer comfort, guidance, and love.

I don’t think I can adequately express the gratitude I have for Michelle. I know I made it through four summers because of her. Even if she wasn’t directly teaching the section, I was in knowing she was or going to be coming in next week or tomorrow gave me the motivation I needed to keep pushing. Knowing there would be a ray of sunshine at rehearsal soon. Michelle Owens was the glue of The Cadets Color Guard all of the years she was involved. She brought the smiles, hope, and laughter in the long hard days and weeks. I can think of no other staff member that I hold in such esteem. I am forever grateful for the kindness and love she imparted on me.



Alison Blankenship


To Whom it May Concern-

I am writing to you today in support of the nomination of Michelle Owens for the Cadets Hall of Fame. If you had the pleasure of knowing Michelle, you are aware that she had a smile that could light up a football field, and it so often did. Her warmth and kind heart preceded her when she entered a room and you were immediately enveloped in her loving smile. This warmth and kindness are two attributes that she brought to her teaching.

I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Michelle in 1996 when I was a member of the Field of View Winter Guard, she had been a member the previous 6 years. She came in, guns blazing, wanting to help ready the group for WGI finals.  I am positive that she brought this same enthusiasm to her time at the Cadets ... drawing not only on her compassion and kind heart, but her fierce love of the activity. She was a role model and lead by example, and she always gave you her best.

As you know, Michelle was taken from us far too soon, but her memory lives on through her smile.  A smile that has warmed many a heart and one that lives with all of us who ever had the chance of knowing the splendid creature that was Michelle Owens. Please accept this letter as support in the recommendation that Michelle be inducted into the Cadets Hall of Fame where she had the profound effect on the Cadets she taught, the same effect she had on all who knew her.

Thank you for your time and consideration of our dear Michelle. Her light lives on in all of us who knew her!



Michael Lombo
CBCCG ‘93, ‘94, ‘95


Dear Cadet Family,

I am writing this letter on behalf of Michelle Owens Memory in support of having her nominated into the Cadet Hall of Fame for 2019.

Michelle was such a shining light to all she came in contact with, and will always be a smiling memory if you were lucky enough to even know her.

She was such a force while competing in DCI and she shared her hard work & compassion to other Colorguard members who were taught by her at the Cadets and Troopers that I personally witnessed.

I have grown to Love her entire Family and I continue to volunteer to drive every summer for her Loving Father Rod Owens.  He loved his daughter deeply and continues to support her memory in this Activity for now 30 years.  Michelle loved her family unconditionally and she passed that love around to the entire Colorguard pageantry. She is so deeply missed by All that knew her, but we know her Spirit Smiley Face is all around us all year long during DCI and WGI events.

The Cadet Holy Name shall always pierce our hearts and Michelle Owens shall always be the heartbeat of this organization moving forward for All Women who took the field with such honor and grace.

God Bless this Committee on your decision to honor Michelle’s legacy and may it be Holy.


Carol Hendry 
Volunteer Driver/Mother of a Cadet


Hall of Fame Committee Members,

I am writing to nominate Michelle Owens for the Cadets Hall of Fame class of 2019.  It was my distinct pleasure to meet Michelle at the Crossmen in the summer of 1995 where we both toured and taught the color guard.  From the moment I met Michelle and began to work with her I knew she was special.

First and foremost, Michelle was an amazing educator from the moment we met, and she continued that momentum and process with the Crossmen from 1995-2000.  I had the pleasure and honor to be with her in 1995, 1998-2000. Michelle not only brought a passion for teaching to the field, she brought her love for the activity, and a comprehensive commitment to the members she was standing in front of that day.  Michelle loved creating connections with students, these connections allowed her to push them past their own limits, and this is the hallmark of a true educator. The ability to light a fire in your students and help them become better at life, better at being a person and finally helping them become a better asset to their fellow members, this is what Michelle brought to the activity and to all of the people that knew her.

Michelle went on to teach with many groups over the years, her time with the Cadets was a highlight for her, having had this conversation with her many times over the years.  Having taught the Crossmen with Michelle for so long and having been situated in and around the Cadets organization during many of these years, I was incredibly happy and nervous for her transition into the Cadets home.  I knew Michelle would teach as she always had, I worried maybe all of the years outside looking in, the reputation, the history of the Cadets and her family’s history with Crossmen would get in her way. Truly, Michelle’s goal was always the same, and Michelle is the consummate professional, her passion for Drum Corps, for teaching is all I personally needed to remember.  Michelle dove into teaching at the Cadets with her same sense of zeal, commitment, and passion she demonstrated wherever she was teaching at the moment.

I can’t think of a more deserving person to be inducted into the Cadets HOF, her tenure was quintessentially Michelle.  Knowing what I have seen with my own eyes, and witnessed over the years, Michelle embodied what it is to be a Cadet. There isn’t a person alive that doesn’t understand who, and what Cadets have been to the overall history of Drum Corps.  This said, when thinking of a deserving staff member to be given an honor of being in the Cadets Hall of Fame, of showcasing what a Cadet looks like, I wholeheartedly endorse Michelle Owens as your pick.



Jim Schaefer
Crossmen Guard Staff 1995, 1998-2000, 2005.
Field Of View IW Colorguard 1998
Magic of Orlando Guard Staff 2002


To whom it may concern,

Before I ever even met Michelle I knew that she was a Cadet. In our marching art circuit I often heard about “Michelle Owens who taught Cadets”. It was woven into the fabric of who she was and this was evident by the way it became the attribute by which she was identified. Once I finally met Michelle it became immediately evident why. She truly was everything I imagined a Cadet to be: Charismatic, Passionate, Determined and an unwavering example of Excellence.

In knowing Michelle for too short a time I was able to see why Jeff claimed her to be his love, why peers claimed her to be their friend, why Lassiter claimed her to be their Guard Director, and why all who knew her claimed proudly that they were somehow associated with her. Any drum corps that is able to claim Michelle as one of their own is lucky beyond words. To me it only makes sense that Michelle should be inducted into the Cadets Hall of Fame to officially and forevermore celebrate that this incredible human being flourished and grew within your organization, and until her last days on earth lived with the same passion and perseverance that seems to be at the very core of what the Cadets believe in.


With warm regards

Rebecca Huls, MS NCC


My name is Mark Willis and I marched with The Cadets from 2007-2012 as a part of the color guard. I first met Michelle at a winter camp in 2006. I was 16 years old when I first auditioned and was extremely nervous as I had never auditioned for a World Class drum corps. We learned a lot of choreography during that camp weekend and I remember feeling completely overwhelmed by all the new information. During one of the rehearsals, Michelle took some of the flags to go over the choreography. I was included in this group and at the time was on the verge of breaking into tears. As Michelle began to speak, I started to feel calmer. Her enthusiasm, patience, and positivity helped relieve my anxiety and I was able to confidently finish out the rest of the audition. This would be the first of many occasions where Michelle displayed her genuine care and concern for others.

Every time I think of her voice, I get flooded with good feelings. Michelle’s bright spirit and smile were infectious.  During some of our hardest rehearsal days at The Cadets, we could count on Michelle to be the bearer of light and give us a dose of positivity.  It was always apparent how special she was to the color guard and we never wanted her to leave us during tour. She knew there was an approach to teaching that was encouraging, constructive and efficient; a contrast to methods other instructors were using at the time. Outside of rehearsal, Michelle was just as endearing. I always felt she truly supported my endeavors such as encouraging me to pursue dance. She was one of the people who gave me confidence in myself and my body. I’m currently dancing professionally today in NYC and Michelle absolutely had a part in helping motivate me to chase my dream and I’m so thankful.

I found out about the beginning of Michelle’s condition when she, myself and a former captain of the Cadets color guard went to visit the corps. in Massachusetts for the 4th of July. We rode up together and she explained some medical issues she was having. This was before the diagnosis of the ovarian cancer and she seem to be in the highest of spirits. She told us about her massage career and I couldn’t be happier for her success. Michelle was a strong woman with great character and love for those around her. Even though the battle with cancer was difficult, I know she kept giving and spreading positivity, making those around her try to feel better than she was doing herself. It’s hard to put into words all that Michelle means not only to me, but The Cadets organization. What Michelle brought to the color guard is priceless. She was an invaluable asset to the staff as well as the members; I can’t think of my Cadets experience without thinking of Michelle. She was truly one-of-a-kind and should absolutely have a part in the Cadets Hall of Fame. There are so many wonderful memories I’m sure I can’t even remember; but I will always know how Michelle made me feel… Loved.


Dear Hall of Fame Committee members:

I would like to provide this letter in support of Michelle Owens induction into the Cadet Hall of Fame.  As you know she was a staff member for the cadets Colorguard for several years. Her passion for teaching is unmatched by anyone else I have ever had the privilege to work with in this activity. I first came to meet Michelle through our winterguard Salem Blue where she was brought in to choreograph the show, she worked here for over 15 years.

When Michelle teaches she keeps it fun and energetic, she pushes the kids far beyond what they think they can do and celebrates them when they achieve it. I have seen her on many occasions 1:1 with a student helping them to achieve.  This isn’t limited to the choreography but in the kids themselves. She nurses them through an injury and is conscious of their wellbeing overall and happy to give a hug at any time. Michelle was an inspiration to the members of this team and this resulted in 6 members of Salem Blue becoming Cadets as they were inspired by what she brought to the activity and how she inspired the value, work ethic and passion of the Cadets where ever she was.

Her caring and love for the Cadets continued even after she stopped teaching and when she would meet up with the team on tour somewhere, would show up with nice clean socks for the entire color guard because she knew how important it was for them to feel good, and the kids so appreciated this simple but impactful act.  In fact, since Michelle’s passing, I have continued this tradition in her honor and have seen first hand the kids reaction to this simple but so meaningful of a gift.

Michelle Owens completely embodied what a Cadet should be and lived it and shared it broadly in our activity.  There is no one so more deserving of this honor to join the incredibly dedicated and inspiring members of the Cadets Hall of Fame.



Robert Godin
Cadets Colorguard 1988


To Whom it May Concern:

I would like to take this time to nominate Michelle Owens posthumously to the Cadets Hall of Fame. As an alumnus of the color guard from 2003-2006, I personally got to work one on one with Michelle for all four of my years at Cadets. Michelle was often referred to as our “savior”. When we were struggling with learning something from one of the choreographers, she was right there learning it with us, making sure we understood every count. She always took time away from whatever it was that she was doing to not only teach us the counts but to also mentor us through life. Michelle was someone you could go to no matter what the issue and she would be right there listening. Michelle was always that bright smile you looked forward to seeing every day on tour. She made those long rehearsal days seem just a bit shorter.

While Michelle may have never marched at the Cadets, she absolutely embodied everything that a Cadet represents.  For this reason, I believe that Michelle Owens would be a great candidate for the 2019 Cadets Hall of Fame.


Sincerely yours,

Laura Woodfin (Rhatigan)
CBCCG 2003-2006


To whom it may concern:

I am honored to be writing a letter of support for Michelle Owens for the Cadets Hall of Fame Class of 2019.

Michelle was personally my instructor from 2005-2008 at the Cadets color guard. My moments on the field with Michelle were some of the highlights of my career with The Cadets. Michelle was a fiercely dedicated educator. She always took the time after practice to work with those that were struggling and was always on the field running with us, counting and cleaning away! Michelle was also a mentor, she was someone you really wanted to emulate. Her positive attitude and radiant smile were contagious. Even when it was a million degrees, raining, or crazy wind, she could always cheer us up and keep us motivated. She could sense when we were down and always gave the best pep talks and turn our moods right around. Michelle was also an amazing friend to everyone she taught. She would walk to meals with us and check in to see how the day was going. She would cheer us on in our victories and be a shoulder to cry on if we needed one. Michelle was a person that made The Cadets feel like family.

Michelle is deeply missed by many in The Cadets and marching arts communities. I hope we can honor her through naming Michelle Owens a Cadets Hall of Fame Class of 2019. She is truly deserving and would be an excellent addition.



Ashley Swengler (Pittman)
CBCCG 05-12


Fellow Alumni:

I am writing this letter in support of Michelle Owens’ nomination to the 2019 class of the Cadets Hall of Fame.

I first met Michelle in 2003, when she joined The Cadets color guard staff as a technician. It was my age out year, and from the beginning of the season, everyone involved knew that the 2003 guard was something special. Michelle spent most of the summer tech-ing the flag line, of which I was a third-year veteran, meaning that I spent most of my summer being educated by Michelle. Her constant positivity in the face of a season that saw 56 days of rain, no free days, and, at the time, a complicated flag book that was standard setting served to keep a rain-soddened, work-weary, and oftentimes delirious flag line from falling to pieces.

From Michelle, I learned more than just how to break down counts; I learned how to smile through the pain of my osteoarthritis; I learned how to take inspiration from someone who gave her all, regardless of the circumstances; I learned how to hold myself to higher standards of behavior and excellence.

After I aged out of The Cadets, Michelle continued to educate and inspire an entire generation of performers for the better part of a decade. Her contribution to our organization and our collective family and history has more than earned her a place amongst those we’ve honored. I am certain that I speak for everyone whose lives she touched within The Cadets organization that her nomination is not only deserved, but a fitting tribute to a wonderful friend, educator, and hopeful member of the 2019 class of The Cadets Hall of Fame.



Marcus J. Hopkins
The Cadets Guard Member


To Whom It May Concern,

I would like to nominate Michelle Owens posthumously to the Cadets Hall of Fame. I am an alumnus of the Cadets, 2003-2007, and I was the color guard Captain in the summers of 2006 and 2007. My time with the Cadets would not have been the same without Michelle.

Marching drum corps is hard. Marching with the Cadets is really hard. But the lesson I learned is that nothing is impossible, and with the right approach and outlook you can figure it out and do it really well. And in those moments of learning, Michelle was always there. Whether it was learning choreography and drill or cleaning the show to perfection, working on it with Michelle made anything seem possible and, dare I say it, fun. We would dig in, work as a team, and get better. She wanted each of us to succeed and believed we could do it. I always felt great after a block lead by Michelle. She started teaching at Cadets my first summer and throughout my 5 years marching and in the years since, she has served as a role model for me.

Michele was a beautiful performer, loved the activity, cared deeply about her students, and was respected and beloved by all those she encountered. Her kind, no-nonsense approach to teaching and problem solving is something I think of regularly in my approach to life. Work hard. Strive for greatness. Act with integrity. Michelle Owens embodied what it means to be a Cadet. I am grateful to have known her and am forever a better person for having been taught by her. She would be a tremendous addition to the Cadets Hall of Fame. Thank you for your consideration.


For Holy Name Shall Always Be,

Caitlin M. Bell
CBCCG 03-07
CBCCG Captain 06-07


Dear Cadets Hall of Fame Committee:

It’s an absolute joy and an honor to write this letter in support of Michelle Owen’s nomination to join the Cadets Hall of Fame.

I was a member of the Cadets trumpet line from 2004-2007 and Michelle was a guard instructor during those four years. My goodness – I wasn’t even a member of the color guard, and she made a significant impact on my experience!  

These days we talk a lot about the culture of organizations and the correlation between member well-being and results. Drum corps can be a rough environment, but Michelle was a woman ahead of her time. She made a real difference in the culture of the organization and helped us be the best performers and the best people we could be, both on and off the field. Beyond her own guard section, Michelle contributed her grace, positivity, and support to everyone in the drum corps. She was a role model of strong, effective leadership and deserves to be in the Cadets Hall of Fame.

Without fanfare or recognition, Michelle diligently put in the work each day to make a difference for the Cadets. I’m so sorry she’s not here to see the letters pour in with love and remembrance for the way she touched lives. As we determine the legacy we hope to leave for future generations of the Cadets, I hope we’ll focus on raising up people like Michelle who led with integrity and humility.


With gratitude,

Larissa Benedek
Cadets trumpet 2004-2007


To Whom It May Concern,

It is my pleasure to write this letter in support of Michelle Owens’ nomination to the Cadets Hall of Fame. I have known Michelle since 1997 and she made a significant impact on my life, both personally and within the realm of the color guard activity.

I marched in the Cadets color guard in 2003, while Michelle was an instructor. It was a very difficult summer for me being away from home while I was dealing with a serious illness in my family. I was so happy that Michelle was on the staff that year as we had such a longstanding personal relationship.
While I outwardly acted unphased, she offered support and friendship, knowing that I needed it during such a vulnerable time.

She was the best. Not only was she a master technician, she had a communication style and approach that resonated with every student she taught. She could motivate students to be their best, being tough and pushing them to their limits, but always there with a warm smile and endless support. Coming from a large network of Michelle’s former students, I know of countless examples where students would not have made it through their Summer marching season if it wasn’t for Michelle and her encouragement and support.

Since her devastating, untimely passing, the stories I’ve personally heard through the years have been amplified exponentially from students around the World who have shared their relationship with Michelle. Her history, love, and dedication to the activity are widely known. She committed most of her life to this activity through her years as a performer, and more selflessly through her devotion to teaching. She impacted countless students by teaching technical excellence and performance. She impacted her colleagues by showing through example how to be an effective educator. Underneath all of this was the warmest heart and the biggest smile which she shared with everyone around her.

This is a small testament to the support from our community to those on the Hall of Fame review committee. Please extend this deep honor, as I know it would have meant the world to her. It certainly does to everyone who had the pleasure of knowing her.


Yours sincerely,

Laura Hamilton
Boston, Massachusetts
Cadets Colorguard 2003


To whom it may concern,

I am writing this letter on behalf of Michelle Owens’ nomination to the Cadets Hall of Fame.  Michelle had an incredible marching arts career which inspired countless students around the country, and imparted her positivity, work ethic, and overall love for the activity to our very own beloved Cadets organization.  I was fortunate enough to march in the corps when Michelle was on staff, and can attest to her impact on our attitudes and performance first hand.

Michelle worked with Cadets for six years, from 2003 to 2008, and came back for the last two weeks in 2009 to help with the push to finals.  I remember Michelle being a beacon on positivity even on the gloomiest of days. The corps worked hard, as the Cadets are always expected to, and this could often wear on your emotions, your physical state, and your mental attitude.  Sometimes members got close to their breaking points. I remember hearing Michelle yelling at us from the sideline words of inspiration and encouragement. She was always there for the members, both on the field and off. She was highly respected, looked up to, and valued by all those in the corps.  

Michelle’s work ethic was second to none, and her genuine want for us to be great was always evident.  A shining example of her work ethic having an incredible impact on the members was the 2005 season. We know how well the corps performed that year, and how incredible their finals performance was.  Michelle helped the color guard take home the George Zingali award that year; she helped them become the best.

In closing, Michelle played a small role in a large production that is The Cadets, but her impact was larger than life.  On rainy days when the grass was up to our knees, when we were exhausted, when we were hurting, Michelle was a role model to us.  We could glance at her once and see her smile and it helped us realize that the day wasn’t really so bad. She helped keep us going and put the experience into perspective.  The organization was lucky to have her on staff, and we, the members, were lucky to know her.



Ryan Breslin
Trumpet 2008-2009


Dear Cadets HOF Committee,

I am writing in support of posthumously adding Michelle Owens to The Cadets Hall of Fame.

I met Michelle the summer of 1995 when she was at Crossmen, and I was marching Cadets. From the moment I met her, I could tell she was someone who cared deeply about the drum corps activity and its performers. She was a consummate professional.

Michelle taught the Cadets Colorguard from 2003 – 2008. I had the honor of teaching with her in 2005 and 2006. It is rare to find someone who exudes the kind of passion, positive attitude, and energy she did. She was always the first person to pick someone up that was down. Her encouragement and tutelage were felt by everyone she came in contact with. Her presence and joy for the activity were not only felt by the color guard, but also the other sections, staff members, and volunteers. She was always a bright light, even on the most difficult, grueling days of tour. She was respected by all who knew her.

Michelle left a lasting impression on everyone she came in contact with. Her legacy and impact on the Cadets will live on in all of us who were lucky enough to know and work with her.


Jana Bocook
Cadets Mellophone 1992-1998
Cadets Brass Staff Member 1999-2001, 2005-2006


To the Cadets Hall of Fame Committee,

I am writing in support of inducting Michelle Owens into the Cadets Hall of Fame. I was fortunate enough to be taught by Michelle as a member of the CBCCG 2004-2005 seasons. Both years I was on the sabre line which allowed me to spend more time being taught by Michelle. What struck me most was not just her innate color guard talent and breadth of knowledge of the activity. It was her warmth, her strength of character, and her genuine concern for the well being of all members. She taught us all kindness not through overt instruction, but in how she lived her life every day and how she treated those around her. I could not think of a more deserving person to be inducted into the Cadets Hall of Fame.

Thank you for your time.


Christina A Salas
CBCCG 04-05


To whom it may concern,

I would like to nominate Michelle Owens posthumously into the Cadets hall of fame. I am an alumni of the Cadets. I Marched from 2002 to 2006. During that time she impacted my life in so many ways. She was my mentor and instructor for four years. Michelle had a long extensive color guard career and even longer teaching career. She taught the Cadets from 2003-2008. She always made time for anyone member who was struggling not only with equipment technicality, but any life struggles along the way. Even though Michelle did not march with the Cadets, In my eyes she was the epitome of what a cadet was and should be. She carried herself with strength and grace on and off the field. Till this very day, I still carry with me life lessons I learned from Michelle. She is someone that has positively affected so many lives and should be remembered and celebrated for many years to come.



Nicole M. Newkirk


To: Cadets Hall of Fame Nomination Committee

We would like to submit our letter of support regarding the nomination of Michelle Owens to the Cadets Hall of Fame.

When we think about the time we spent being members of the Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps, we think about positive attitude, commitment and hard work.  

When we think of Michelle, her positive attitude in everything she did is the very first thing that comes to mind.  Her commitment and hard work to the drum corps activity were like no other.

We knew Michelle in and out of drum corps. Back when we were members of the Cadets Michelle was a member of the Crossmen Drum and Bugle Corps.  We would see and talk to Michelle before and after shows.  She was always happy, positive and cheering everyone on.

We reconnected with Michelle and formed a strong and close friendship when she moved to Georgia in 2000.  We were excited when she became an instructor for the Cadets color guard. We had the opportunity to visit Michelle on tour several times and see her work with the corps.  Her cheerfulness and positive attitude were apparent even during a long practice in the middle of the summer.  She had the gift of touching individuals lives by pushing them to reach the highest levels.  

Michelle embodied every characteristic of the Cadets, and help to create a great experience for so many members of the Cadets color guard.  The Cadets Hall of Fame honors those who have impacted and upheld the Cadet ideals, and Michelle is certainly one of those individuals.


Dave McCarthy
1988 to 1991 Holy Bass

Shoie McCarthy (Wolner)
1985 to 1991 Color Guard  


My name is Tom Bishop 

I was a Cadets volunteer from 2002-2008

I had to take a break so I could focus on some health issues.

I returned as a Cadets volunteer, greatly changed. I lost a significant amount of weight.


I was relaxing in the entertainer after a show and Michelle entered

She was thrilled to see me again, but I did not recognize her.

I knew that something was seriously wrong. 

I went to an eye doctor and I got a dialed eye exam.

The diagnosis was diabetic retinopathy disease and diabetic macular edema.


If I hadn’t recognized Michelle, I never would have gone to a doctor.

Michelle was always supportive and encouraging to me as a Cadet volunteer and after as I had difficult choices to make about my eye health that ultimately saved my vision!


It is my pleasure to nominate Michelle Owens to The Cadets Hall of Fame!



Tom Bishop 




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