Over the course of our history, there have been many great and selfless individuals who have positively shaped The Cavaliers and the experience we provide for our members. From educators and designers, to administrators, volunteers, alumni, and parents, this nonprofit organization continues to thrive today because of the countless people who have invested their hearts and souls in the delivery of our mission.

For the better part of three decades, Bruno Zuccala stood with the Green Machine as a pillar of educational integrity and a champion of the corps’ world-class student experience. The Cavaliers would like to shine the spotlight back on Bruno and again offer our congratulations after his recent induction into the prestigious Drum Corps International (DCI) Hall of Fame.

LINK: Introducing the DCI Hall of Fame Class of 2017

“Bruno is part of the fabric of Cavalier history, having served as color guard caption head, staff coordinator, assistant director, and corps director over an incredible span of 27 years," said Chris Lugo, executive director of The Cavaliers. “Bruno's high standards of excellence and his commitment to developing our educational teams and our students during his tenure can still be felt today here in Rosemont."

"We are honored to have had Bruno Zuccala–an Honorary Cavalier–as a key leader and mentor who influenced The Cavaliers for the better."

As we take another moment to recognize Bruno on his DCI Hall of Fame achievement, we asked for some special help compiling memories to celebrate Bruno and articulate what he means to The Cavaliers.

Thank you, Bruno! 


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Rosie Queen

I have had the honor of being taught by Bruno as well as teaching by his side.  We would always joke about his ability to multi task——he would wake the corps up, cook the eggs on the food truck that morning, clean the buses, then go to rehearsal and tech the rifle line—all while making sure the staff and kids were safe and having a great time. 

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I learned so much from Bruno on what it is to be self-less.  He is the true definition of that word. 

He is an educator who ALWAYS had the best interest of his students in the front of his intentions. I remember one time at Cavaliers a horn player got hit and start bleeding profusely… Bruno literally ran down there and “took the shirt off his back” to help stop the bleeding until proper supplies came around.  

I learned so much from Bruno on what it is to be self-less.  He is the true definition of that word. 

He is an educator who ALWAYS had the best interest of his students in the front of his intentions. I remember one time at Cavaliers a horn player got hit and start bleeding profusely… Bruno literally ran down there and “took the shirt off his back” to help stop the bleeding until proper supplies came around.  

 

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Salty Dog t-shirts, eating “Chicken Paste” off the food truck, laughing until he couldn’t breathe and his face would turn all red,  having nicknames or catchphrases for just about everyone he met… Bruno is one of my dearest friends and mentors.

Thank you Bruno for teaching us all what it is to be such an incredible educator... and friend.

This Hall of Fame award couldn’t be more deserving.

All my love and respect,

Rosie


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Randall McDavid

"Ding, ding, ding.....it's a boy!" Ha! I would not be the man I am today without you. You are one of the most influential people in my life.....EVER!

Love you Bruno!


Michael Gaines

Hall of Fame Nomination Letter

Ultimately, the goal of teaching these young people in our activity is to help mold them into better human beings. DCI has changed the lives of so many kids for the better because of the wonderful educators within its ranks. Among these educators, one man stands out: Bruno Zuccala. 

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I met Bruno almost 30 years ago when I first went to The Cavaliers. Throughout my years there, I watched as he transcended the position of instructor, and became a father figure to countless young boys, and helped guide them into young men. I am not exaggerating when I say that thousands of letters of support could be written for this nomination just by those Cavaliers who may no longer be young, but would still testify to Bruno’s influence on their journey into adulthood. 

Personally, my relationship with Bruno evolved in many ways over the years. Almost instantly, he was a beloved instructor and friend to me during my time in the corps. When I aged out of drum corps, I took the ambitious and somewhat scary step of forming my own world class winter guard called Escapade, and we became colleagues and friends. From the start, I asked Bruno’s advice and sought out his help on so many issues. He came to auditions that first year to support me, and ended up driving 5 hours one way from Pittsburgh every weekend for the next two years. He was paid only in love and gratitude. 

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This example of his dedication and loyalty is but one small moment out of thousands that could be told from the young men and women he has taught, not only in The Cavaliers or The Cadets, but the many lives he has touched throughout the activity. 

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He was a guiding force on any staff to which he dedicated his time. He taught the teachers, and fought ferociously for the well being of the students. He has dedicated his drum corps career to empowering young people to feel confident, and to become the leaders and teachers of the future. 

His sense of humor is infectious. His loyalty is unwavering. His love is something thousands of people treasure and remember. 

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When we ask about a person’s contribution to the activity, there can be nothing of greater import than the contributions to our kids. When we ask who has contributed to our kids on a level rarely seen, one of the few names that will rise to the top of any list, is Bruno Zuccala. It is with love, gratitude, and hope that I recommend Bruno’s induction into the DCI Hall of Fame. 

Respectfully, Michael Gaines

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David Simpson

In 1999 I had been diagnosed with strep throat and was quarantined from the corps for a night.  During that night’s travel, they put me in the sleeper cabin of the food truck semi so I could get some rest. In the middle of the night, the semi came to a screeching halt and I was rushed out of the cab to the side of the highway where I saw two things:

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1. Our beloved food truck burning to the ground.

2.  Bruno, jumping off the guard bus and running down the side of the highway in his bus pajamas to come find me and make sure I wasn’t in danger.

While it was an absurd scene to watch play out, it’s a great example of one of the most important roles he played with the corps (and he has played many); Father figure and protector.

Bruno, thanks for being a father figure to so many of us and always having our best interests at the forefront of hat you did.

David

FMM 1998-2002

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Lamar Branson

When I first auditioned for The Cavaliers Color Guard I was a 16 year old kid frightened out of my mind. I stood in that gym, flag in hand, surrounded by guys I considered "gods" in the color guard activity and I thought to myself... I look NOTHING like these guys and there was no way in hell I going to make it.

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Bruno, picking up my nervous energy, gave my shoulder a firm squeeze and told me that I was going to have an amazing weekend.  Instantly all of those fears turned to determination and at the end of the weekend Bruno welcomed me to The Cavaliers. Later in the season I asked Bruno why he and the team chose me and his reply has always stayed with me..."You remind me of myself when I marched." I am still honored and have carried this moment with me throughout my career.

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Bruno, Thank you! You have shaped me into the man I am today. You are more than a role model to me because I consider you to me my family. You have have been my father, my mentor, my inspiration, and my friend. I am honored to have been taught by such an amazing educator. Congratulations on this incredible honor. Bravo!

I love you very much BOONDA! See you at the front of the bus.

With all of my love, Lamar


Tim Newburn

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I often credit Bruno, as many of us do, for shaping the man that I have grown into. Well, the good parts, at least. ;)

Father figure, teacher, mentor, coach, friend. He was there for some pretty important years. Ever present, he saw it all. He watched us as we figured out who we wanted to be--as performers and more importantly, as people. He had a way of keeping us on the path, but never telling us which way to walk down it.

The thing is, I still learn from Bruno nearly every day. The takeaway is on the opposite side of the (now antique) coin, but his influence still guides daily decisions in my own teaching and living, the least of which is down-up-flat. He is the master of never taking himself too seriously, all the while working tirelessly. He would be teasing & joking...while you did the 60th rep. His work ethic is unparalleled. He has a laid back intensity that inspires a never-ending pursuit of perfection without encouraging stress. Don't like an outcome? Well, then, get back in block and keep pushing. And yet, he never asks someone to work harder than him. He is the first up, the last to leave and will be right next to you in the trenches the entire time. 

As for his epic ability to multi-task, he is simply not human.

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But not to worry, Bruno shows his humanity in countless other ways. He has an uncanny ability to read people, figures out how best to approach them and makes everyone feel included. He doesn't "treat everyone the same," as is touted the goal in education so often. He understands rather, that no one is the same and approaches them as their own person. The effect is magnificent. Everyone feels special. Everyone works harder. Everyone comes out the other side a better person.

He uses humor to lighten difficult moments, making everyone around him comfortable and at ease. He is a master motivator. Take for example, the now infamous trips to Dairy Queen. Yes, yes, the "spoiled poostie Cavalier boys," everyone laughed. And yet, I probably did more spins on the way there and back than I ever would've done standing in a field. And I liked it. I was happy about it. And I got better....without bitching. Genius. Just one example of Bruno getting you to do what you need to do without even realizing you've been asked to do it. The true definition of leadership.

I have no idea how a heart this big can live inside this tiny little Italian sausage, but I know I speak for thousands of people when I say I am beyond grateful for the impact it has had on me. You have provided a map for so many, Bruno. You have changed the activity by changing the world. Or at least a very small piece of it, in a very big way. 

Congratulations on this long overdue honor.


Gustavo Jacobo

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Bruno, what can I say? Well, you are inspiring, strong, outgoing, motivational, passionate. Thank you for all the memories. There are so many. I feel so lucky to have had you in my life. Thank you for the memories and the lessons. I will forever carry you in my heart.

I love you, Bruno!!!

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Dan Rancourt

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Just wanted to say thank you for the best 4 years of my life! 97-2000 was an opportunity to experience all that is possible in the drum corps activity; losing, winning, growing, evolving, hard work and lots of fun! Without your guidance those of us that marched during that time would have experienced the drum corps activity in a very different light.   I think great teachers allow their students to thrive in all different types of environments. You embody that philosophy and I strive everyday in my own classroom to be what you were to me; a phenomenal role model! 

A well deserved accolade for you! Love you very much! 


Sam Villarreal

Bruno and the rest of the color guard staff took a huge leap of faith offering me a spot in the corps the year I marched. I always felt like I was way in over my head trying to keep up with the rest of the guys in the guard, and I remember a lot of days being on edge and at my wit's end just trying to hang on. To this day, every time I think of Bruno the first thing that pops into my head is him singing "Ghost Riders in the Sky" complete with mellophone rips every time I'd walk onto the guard bus. It never failed to put a smile on my face no matter how rough of a day I was having. 

"Trooper Sam" Villarreal, '99


Ryan Bronner

In November of 1999, I auditioned for the 2000 Cavalier color guard. Being 17 and traveling halfway across the country was far out of my parents' comfort zone. This was something I wanted for a very long time, so I felt leaving my comfort zone was a necessity to achieve what I wanted.

Bruno was one of the first men I met in this strange journey. I always thought instructors at this level would be egotistical in nature and would know who I was if I was good enough to make the corps. He definitely did not fit this mold. Bruno asked about me throughout the weekend, checking to see how I was doing and even getting to know me as a person. He told me he wanted me to be in the drum corps; there was no way I could say no, especially to this man. 

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I spent four years as a member of the Cavalier color guard and even had the honor of being the color guard sergeant for my age-out season. In that time, Bruno taught me how to be the performer I always wanted to be and, more importantly, the best version of myself I could become. He took time to get to know my family and, to this day, will always ask about them. I went to college for education and I learned more from this man than I did in any other class about being an educator and what it meant to teach any students that were set in front of me. When I aged out in 2003, I was saddened to leave the Cavaliers, but I was even more upset that I would not have the time to spend with the man who became a second father to me.

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Luckily, I have been able to cross paths with Bruno many times, including experiences where I have been able to teach alongside him. He still asks about my family, he still teaches me something new, and he still reminds me that he is a key mentor in leading me to become the best version of myself that I can become. It is impossible to express an amount of gratitude that could possibly equal what he has done for me and any of us that have had the honor to be his student. Being one of Bruno's boys is something I deeply cherish from all of my years in this activity.

DCI is incredibly lucky to have a man like Bruno represent everything that drum corps should be. He is the standard that every teacher and person should want to become. This accolade is truly overdue and the DCI Hall of Fame has become a more dignified institution because his name is a part of it. 

Thank you, Bruno, and congratulations! This world is full of more amazing men because of your tireless and selfless work.

Sincerely,

Ryan Bronner


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