Belles of St. John's
St. John's Drum Corps (All Girls and Co-ed)
March 17, 2023
The Alumni Committee is pleased to bring you the first of our Alumni Spotlight featuring Pattee Hurley.
Year joined and last year marched
I marched in drum corps from around 1978-1986, starting in Brantford, ON with Belles of St. John's, St. John's (all girl and co-ed), and then Conqueror II in Hamilton, ON in 1987. I don't recall the exact year, but I was not doing well in Brownies because I was painfully shy. I joke that I was kicked out of Brownies, but the truth is that my Mom gave me the option to join drum corps. (It proved to be the right decision!)
How did you learn about the corps? E.g. Did a friend invite you to join?
Mycousin Robin Murray, who sadly passed away in 2022, introducedmy family to drum corps. Robin marched in the 1970s and recruited my sister Sandy (a.k.a “Sam”). My sister Sherry and I soon followed.
Section(s)- e.g. drum line, horn line, colour guard, instructor, board member, etc.
I was initially a member of the horn line and played flugel, then became a member of the drum line from 1981-1986, playing cymbals, bass drum, and tenor drums. During the 1985-1986 season, I was the Drum Major Assistant and in the “Pit” section of the drum line.
Name or Nickname when you were marching.
I addressed myself as “Pattee” and my nicknames were “Patunia George Jig”and “the tall one”.
What skills learned in drum corps do you continue to use today?
I can still drum (although not nearly as well!). People are often shocked when I share this talent as an icebreaker or "little known fact".
Drum corps taught me the value of hard work and perseverance. I also learned how to work as part of a team while accepting responsibility for my individual role in ensuring the success of the corps. The drum corps experience and 'teamwork' mentality have been invaluable throughout my life, helping to build respectful and positive relationships - both personally and professionally.
Did your involvement with drum corps impact your career path(s) and how?
My drum corps experience was critical in shaping my life. Drum corps brought me out of my shell, and I have given talks to large groups, including doctors and other healthcare professionals.
Drum corps, and the relationships we built, showed us a world outside of our environment and opened many doors that may have never opened otherwise. I grew up in a very loving home and was raised by an extraordinary single Mom. We lived in low-income housing and did not have the means to do much outside of our neighbourhood. Dear Mr. Hinsley would drive my sisters and I to and from practices and shows. I suspect the leadership in the organization also helped to ensure we were able to stay in the corps when we did not have the funds to do so. We are eternally grateful!
I did not end up pursuing a career in music or the arts. However, the values I learned in drum corps have been critical to my successes and the lessons have helped me persevere through hard times. Despite the odds, I managed to get a bachelor's degree with honours in psychology and a master's degree in health research methodology.
Do you have a favourite memory from your time with the corps?
One of my favourite memories is evening shows. After a long day of travel and practice in the hot sun, there was nothing like performing under the bright lights with a slight breeze in the air, watching other corps perform, and standing side-by-side and corps-by-corps during full-corps Retreat. Filming the Sesame Street Movie “Follow That Bird” was also agreat experience, although I recall most of us being a bit traumatized when we saw the finished movieand discovered that they changed our music and didn't credit the corps. What I treasure most about drum corps is the friendships that were formed, some of which are now over 40 years old.
What can you tell us about yourself now?
I am currently living near Washington, DC. I moved there to be with my now husband, Joel, and to work for the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). I am ASCO's Senior Director of Strategic Research Initiatives and much of my work is focused on improving equity and access to cancer research. In my spare time, I am actively involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters and have sat on their Board of Directors (in Hamilton and Virginia) and have been a mentor to young girls since around 2000. For fun, I love to travel and spend time camping on our 50 acres of land in Lexington, Virginia. I visit Canada whenever possible to help keep my homesickness at bay.
Sorry, we do not have photos to share at this time.