ELYRIA — Morgan Davis hasn’t stopped twirling since she said goodbye to Elyria High School in 2016 — or making history.
The soon-to-be junior at Ohio State University, who made history as Elyria’s first black female drum major, is now the first black female assistant drum major of the Ohio State Marching Band, and she is only the fourth female student in the history of the organization to hold the position that of drum major.
The Columbus institution, home to “The Best Damn Band in the Land,” made the announcement Saturday, unveiling the band’s first two members of the 2018 marching band season. When reached Monday, Davis said she couldn’t put into words the feeling of earning one of the coveted spots.
“This is something I have been working toward for more than 10 years, most of my life,” she said.
Davis will work under Konner Barr, a rising fourth-year student and the school’s 62nd drum major. But that doesn’t mean she will be on the sidelines this year.
Davis said she will be out front with Barr when the band marches in parades, and on game day she will perform the post-game routine, when the band plays the opposing team’s fight song, one song from the halftime show and a final run through of “Hang on Sloopy.”
Barr and Davis were among six candidates who competed — all current or former members of D-Row, the band’s drum major training squad — for the role of drum major and assistant drum major. The high-stakes tryout went well for Davis, who showed off a pregame performance, twirled to the band playing “Rocking on the Highway” and executed five different high tosses, two of which Davis said she dropped.
“My twirling routine went the best it has ever gone and I got a little full of myself,” she admits. “I lost focus.”
Davis, 20, is a sociology major and legal foundations of society minor.
Davis was just 16 and a mellophone player when she became the second female marcher to twirl the baton for Elyria. She served as drum major her senior year.
Morgan followed in the footsteps of Rosie Behmer, the first female drum major in Elyria’s history, but she said then that it never dawned on her to skip the male-dominated field. In this most recent honor, Davis acknowledged her role as a pioneer.
“Representation is very important, and there aren’t very many people who look like me who have been through the drum major program here, so I’m very excited to be setting an example for others,” she said in the release.
Davis started twirling when she was 9-years-old with the Elyria’s Deputies Baton and Drum Corps.
“It really helped me get the foundational skills of twirling early on,” she said. “A lot of people start twirling when they get to Ohio State and it can be a little tough to get the hang of things. Having that experience with the Deputies really set the foundation for me.”