Written by: Bill Flaker, DCA PR team
Doug Oravez began his drum corps career in 1961 with the Hot Shots from Norwalk, Ct. As a young boy growing up on the Shoreline of Connecticut, Doug and his father quickly found out that his athletic achievements were not going to bloom into a career (he could not hit a fastball to save his life). Being a local firefighter, his father urged him to join Norwalk’s Hot Shots Drum & Bugle Corps, sponsored by the local police and fire departments.
After spending the bulk of his teenage years as a Hot Shot, Doug decided in May of 1970 to try his talents with the world champion corps in Connecticut: The Hurricanes. As a soprano bugle rookie, Doug was eventually thrown into the drill to fill a hole, and the rest is history. Doug was able to grow his talents under many great Drum Corps icons, such as brass arrangers Frank Dorritie, John Arientano, Laurie Kunzle, Ray Fallon, Buddy Bibeault, Dave Dion, as well as World Drum Corps Hall of Fame members Art Hylwa, Pepe Notaro and Joe Gennaro. He advanced his playing skills to lead soprano and marched in the line until 1999.
Doug returned to the Hurricanes in 2007 and 2008 to fill a soprano hole. Since 1997, he has been a visual instructor for the Hurricanes. He has enjoyed passing along the experiences gained being taught marching technique by many drum corps legends, including: Ed Condon, Bob Woods, Bob Daniels, Ed Yagovane, Dennis Banks, Mickey Kelly, Neal Smith, Dan McBride, and Jeff Smith.
After sifting through the many years of memories, Doug recounted his most memorable drum corps moment. In 1981, at DCA finals in Philadelphia, the Hurricanes were on the verge of capturing their third DCA World title. His solo performance in the corps trademark song "Return of the Magnificent Seven" earned him a large following of fans, who attempted to take his gloves, sash and other items after the retreat ceremonies. Doug also has hundreds of war stories from when the Hurricanes were still an all male corps, and the competition was extremely fierce between many of the DCA units. Many stories can be told from those days, but they would have to be censored first! Doug was named Hurricane of the Year in 1974; and along with being a member of the Hurricanes Hall of Fame, Doug is proud to be an associate member of the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame.
Doug was named the Hurricanes Corps Director at the end of the 2011 season. He is excited and proud that the 2012 Hurricanes are headed in a new direction, having rebranded the corps with a new logo, uniform changes, and an overall new attitude. The corps is much further along in their preparation for the competition season than in previous years. The percussion section is full and the color guard may turn out to be the best ever in Hurricanes’ history. The horn line is under new leadership, and the last remaining spots are filling up. The Hurricanes are rich in tradition, and the change from police style headgear to shakos, along with their choice of show music for 2012 brings a new-look Hurricanes to the DCA stage in 2012. This year’s production is entitled "Blokes and Birds", and features a unique blend of traditional and 60’s invasion British music that is very recognizable and entertaining.
The 2012 Hurricanes are entering the summer a much younger corps than in past, thanks to the efforts of a new recruiting model that aligned the corps with local high school marching band circuits and clinics. Doug has been involved with the Norwalk High School Marching Band since 1988, serving as both a visual and color guard instructor. The band has won several Bands of America regional competitions, as well as going undefeated at the football bowl game competitions they have participated in.
Doug Oravez has come full circle with the Connecticut Hurricanes, starting out as a horn player, to visual instructor, and now as corps director. His reputation is highly regarded, having earned the moniker of "The General" from the countless members he has influenced. The drum corps community wishes Doug much success as his forty-four years of drum corps experiences will benefit the Connecticut Hurricanes a great deal.