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Behind the Shades:
Veronica Nickel

Q: Where were you born and where did you grow up?

A: I was born outside of Chicago, and grew up all over really. I was adopted at age 6 and moved to Orlando. I Lived in the Orlando area for most of my life until college. Then I moved to San Diego to go to college at SDSU.

Q: What is your performance background?

A: l was involved in my high school band as a flute/piccolo player. The band was very competitive; we went to the BOA regionals and even placed 7th one year. My family was involved with drum corps since I was in high school. After marching with Magic of Orlando, my big brother marched with SCV and my little brother marched with the Blue Devils. When I went to college I didn't do band right away. but I joined halfway through my junior year and played flute, mellophone and percussion.

Q: What brought you to the Bay Area and how did you find out about the Renegades?

A: I moved to San Francisco after college to find a job. I love it here!!! I saw the Renegades in 2000 and actually remember saying to a friend that I would NEVER do senior corps. Then one day I found the website and decided to see if the Renegades needed any drummers. I showed up at a January rehearsal in 2001 and was told that the drumline was probably full...can you believe it!!! They said that they thought the guard had spots, so I went to check out the guard. I had spun once in my past and had dance experience. After the first day I knew that I had found my new home. That's how the I found the Renegades...or at least how they found me.

Q: Let's step outside the corps for a second. What do you do in "real life?"

A: I work for a training and consulting company. We do corporate training for sales skills, communication skills, stuff like that. I'm in sales- of course! I work on our national accounts team. so i call on big corporations like Intel, HP, Gateway, and the like. It isn't glamorous, but it will do until I go back to film school.

Q: Why not follow your brothers and march in a junior corps?

A: I was around junior corps a great deal, but I never thought that I had what it took to do the activity. I had always secretly wanted to do color guard, but didn't have to guts to try out, even for Magic. So I supported everyone else, and cheered from the stands. The Renegades allowed me to do something that I always wanted to and never thought that I could, but I'm glad I didn't do junior corps. I lived it second-hand through my brothers, and that was enough. I like sleeping in a bed and showering in a real shower. Most of all I like having fun, and I'm not sure how much of that goes on in junior corps.

Q: What was your favorite moment as a member of the Renegades?

A: This year before the Fremont show, the guard gathered around and had a very special moment together holding hands and telling each other what we were thankful for in our lives. I had wanted to tell each one of them how thankful I was that they chose to share their life with me this year, and I was lucky to have the opportunity to do so. I am constantly amazed by this group. We went out and had a great show. I dropped my flag for the first time ever in a show, and it was still the best show of my guard life, hands down.

Q: You met your fiance in the corps. Talk a little about that.

A: I remember when I first had Chuck pointed out to me. One of my friends was interested in him. The first night I really ever spent time talking to him was at the last sports auction. He was running souvies and I said I would help while he was performing. I was supposed to meet my mother there and I was so surprised that was so polite to her. He even bought her a drink from the bar. Over the next little bit we talked more and more. We kept it under wraps for most of the 2001 season. Last Thanksgiving we got engaged. I've been told that we are the first "Renegades Wedding." I'm a very lucky girl.

Q: The corps has taken a major step in its development into a competitive drum corps. Where do you see the Renegades after this year?

A: Actually, I think that the corps should take next year and try to maintain the momentum that we've gathered this year. Do I think we need to grow as players and performers? Yes. But we have excelled hand over fist for the last 5 years. There comes a point in every organization were things need to go from being exciting and new to becoming more focused on sustainable growth. Next year is the perfect time for the Renegades to challenge themselves with trying to MAINTAIN our excellence. I guess what I'm trying to say is, I don't think the goal next year should be to win DCA. We should try to grow a healthy organization and maintain our level of intensity.

Q: With the wedding coming up, and knowing that all good things must come to an end, when your Renegades career is over and you're telling your children stories about your days in the corps, what lessons do you hope to impart to them?

A: I hope that I can show them that it is possible to do something that you want to, even when you think you have nothing left, be it time, energy or money. I hope that it will show them that if they really want to do something, they should figure out a way to do it. Most of all they should do it wholeheartedly. My grandfather said "Don't do something unless you're going to do it right." That's my motto with the Renegades...I hope I can pass that on.

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