2018 Hall of Fame Finalists

Meet the 2018 Hall of Fame Finalists

Learn a little more about our wonderful finalists and what they have meant to Spirit of Atlanta

Brad Caraway

Brad Caraway

Staff-Management-Board of Directors 1980 - 1992

If Hall of Fame finalist Brad Caraway felt like a sort of "Jack of All Trades" during his marching years in the Madison Scouts color guard AND drum line, that was nothing compared to the experiences awaiting him on the other side of "aging out." Brad never had the opportunity to wear the baby blue onto the field, since he aged out of DCI shortly before the founding of Spirit, but he more than made up for it in later years, first as a much-loved and respected visual (or, as it was known then, "M&M," or marching and maneuvering) instructor, then for many years as part of the triple-threat corps management team of Brad, Jim Clark and Mike Back. Mike was inducted into the Spirit of Atlanta Hall of Fame last year, and Jim joins Brad as one of this year's finalists for the honor. In fact, Jim would only agree to his name being on the finalists list "if Brad's name is also on the list." Once a team, always a team.

Dr. Ken Bodiford

Dr. Ken Bodiford

Director, 2000 - 2007

Many people will never know how close Spirit of Atlanta came to shutting down for good in the fall of 2000. The corps had just completed a tour that many would consider a "miracle," considering that the corps nearly folded just a couple of weeks before tour was to begin in June. But thanks to a Herculean last-minute effort by alumni, parents and other friends of the corps, there was a 2000 Spirit of Atlanta. After the 2000 tour, the newly-formed Friends of Spirit board of directors met to decide whether or not to fold the corps. At that meeting, Jacksonville State University Marching Southerners director Ken Bodiford, who had joined the Friends of Spirit board, pitched a novel - and certainly risky for him - idea. Move the corps to JSU, where it would become an official performing ensemble of the JSU School of Music. The board agreed and that day Spirit of Atlanta became Spirit from JSU, a move that gave the corps an infusion of cash, partly in the form of a loan from the JSU Foundation. As part of the move, Ken became the director of the corps, a position he held through 2007 and the University gave the corps much-needed stability. Under Ken's guidance, Spirit made it back into finals in 2002 for the first time since 1990. Ken is one of a handful of people to hold the title of corps director over the past four+ decades, but without his courage and willingness to step outside the box for a solution to Spirit's dire straits of 2000, the corps would have likely died before some current members were even born.

Jim Clark

Jim Clark

Marching Member 1977, Staff-Volunteer-Management-Board of Directors 1978- 2012.

Jim Clark has the distinction of being one of the oldest - if not THE oldest - Spirit of Atlanta alum. A fine jazz musician and trumpet player, Jim was one of only three "rook-outs" in 1977, Spirit's inaugural season. Thankfully for Spirit, Jim's involvement with the corps didn't end after that one season. After aging out, Jim drove buses, built and drove equipment trucks (including one that was blown off a Wyoming highway while Jim slept in a lounge he had built over the truck's driver's compartment). Jim was the glue that kept the corps together for much of the 1980s. Jim, who spent much of the 80's covered head-to-toe with grease as he helped keep Spirit's fleet of 1950's-era buses on the road, can do more with a roll of duct tape and a bungee cord than most diesel mechanics can do with a chest full of expensive tools. But for all the good things that Jim did for the corps in the 80s, they almost pale in comparison to how he stepped up a couple of decades later to fill the large shoes of chairman of the Friends of Spirit Board of Directors during much of the decade of the 2000s. He was generous with his time and untold thousands of dollars in financial assistance during some very lean years for the corps.

Tam Easterwood

Tam Easterwood

Staff, Management 1983 - 1987, 1990

Tam Easterwood was part of the creative trio that brought Spirit’s only caption championships. He was the Program Director behind the wildly popular 1986-87 and 90 programs. With a huge impact on members, he was known for his enthusiasm and demand for excellence which led to success in his programs and in his profession. "Students in every walk of life still give him the credit for turning their lives around.” Alan Armstrong has said. “He taught them self-discipline, demanded dedication and a level of commitment that wasn’t demanded anywhere else in their young lives.” Although Tam was taken from this world in 1993, he continues to live in the hearts of many and to deeply impact the drum corps arena. Says Armstrong, “The fire he lit in this world still burns bright and is passed on daily in hundreds of different ways. Those of us who were taught by him, who taught with him, or even just had the chance to witness him teach others, will never be the same. He had a fiery temper, a smile that could light up a room, and a laugh -- an infectious laugh. Anyone who ever spent much time around him got at least a little taste of all three."

Kassi Gulliford

Kassi Gulliford

Member 2001 - 2007, Volunteer 2008 - Present

Thousands of people have marched with Spirit of Atlanta over the past four decades, but only a handful of those have had the dedication necessary to march seven years. Kassi Gulliford is one of those few. But Kassi's impact on Spirit didn't end when she aged out of the low brass section in 2007. While Kassi is one of those rare people who makes an impact on everyone she meets, she also figured out a way to make an impact even on Spirit members past and present that she hadn't met when she spearheaded the first "Fielding Your Delta" swap, an event that has become a cherished tradition among both alumni and members. Kassi has also served as a member at large and Vice President of the Spirit of Atlanta Alumni Association from 2008-2017, she can often be seen on the road with the corps, helping out for a week or so on the food truck

Dr. Todd Snead

Dr. Todd Snead

Brass Caption Head 2009-2010, Asst. Corps Director 2011, Executive Director 2012 - 2014

Todd Snead, who served Spirit from 2009 through 2013, is perhaps best known for leading the corps through a period that saw Spirit climb back into DCI Finals in 2011, 2012 and 2013 for the first time since 2007. Todd and Spirit's creative team developed a string of shows that are remembered as fan favorites and were a lot of fun to watch - and to perform. The creative and competitive success of the corps under Todd's helm tells only a small fraction of the story. Like so many of Spirit's "saviors" or "angels" over the years, the financial support that Todd brought to Spirit during those years went a long way toward keeping the corps on the road.

Sal Salas

Sal Salas

Visual/Design Staff 1983-1990, Consultant 1995, Program Coordinator 2017-Present

Sal Salas has worked many times with Spirit of Atlanta, including from 1983-1990 and 1995 as a Drill Writer and on the Design Team. He came back briefly as a Winter Guard Consultant in 2014, and has been back with SoA as the Program Coordinator/Artistic Director since 2017. Salas was the lead of the trio that brought the corps its only two caption Championships, which included his vision for couples colorguard that brought innovation to the corps and the activity. Bringing his vision to life ensured Spirit of Atlanta’s role in changing the guard activity. "Being involved with Spirit of Atlanta has been an experience of a lifetime.” Salas says. “The sense of family was there from the first day and continued throughout the years. From the very beginning, wonderful friends who came into my life as part of Spirit of Atlanta are still part of my life. The sense of Southern hospitality was felt each and every day from the members to the staff to the administration. I am so proud to say I am a part of Spirit of Atlanta. It truly helped shaped who I am today. I am grateful to call Spirit of Atlanta my home away from home."

Will Campbell

Will Campbell

Marching Member 1999 - 2003, Percussion Staff 2004 - 2016

Will Campbell was a marching member from 1999-2002, and served as a staff member from 2004-2010, and 2016. After the 2016 season, Will was diagnosed with a highly aggressive form of cancer. He passed away in November 2016, and was named staff in memoriam in 2017. Will is most remembered for his positivity, kindness, loyalty, and dedication. He is highly praised by his students and fellow staffers for his inspiration and the influence he had on their lives.His passion for music, music education, and drum corps reached much further than practice, rehearsals, and camps. “For Will, it was never about notes on a page,” says Spirit alum Lisa Stevenson, who taught with him at Woodland High School. “It was about helping kids learn to be better humans through their actions, their relationships, and the music they created.” For this and for many reasons, Will Campbell represents the “spirit” of Spirit of Atlanta and will always be an important part of the corps’ history.

Mark & Nora Whisenant

Mark & Nora Whisenant

Marching Members 1977 - 1981, Volunteers, 1981 - Present

Mark and Nora Whisenant were standout marching members, Mark on contra from 1977-1981, and Nora marching cymbals from 1978-1980. Interestingly, they were not a “drum corps couple” but became reacquainted in the 1990s and married in 1996. When Spirit was experiencing a threat to their existence in 1999, Mark and Nora were a key part of a small, dedicated group determined to keep the corps in the South. Nora headed up the Alumni Association both as president and treasurer, managed souvenirs, and closely monitored finances for the organization. While Nora was heavily involved in the SOA and SOAAA boards, Mark was busy helping the corps acquire and maintain its fleet of vehicles and ensuring everything was safe for travel. He accomplished most anything Spirit needed to make the operations run smoothly. One of his most notable legacies is the Alumni Memorial Day picnic - bringing alumni and families together from all generations. More than anything, Mark and Nora Whisenant have always cared deeply about members of Spirit of Atlanta. They have tirelessly sacrificed time and treasure to ensure that every generation could have the same incredible experience as theirs.

Tom Float

Tom Float

Percussion Arranger and Caption Head, 1978 - 1981

Tom Float was to the Spirit drum line what 2017 Spirit of Atlanta Hall of Fame inductee Jim Ott was to the corps' horn line. Tom (or "Float" as he is more readily known) is the other part of the equation that brought the young corps to the top of the activity in the late 70s and early 80s. Tom's leadership had such an impact on the activity that even decades later his Spirit drum lines are remembered and held in the highest esteem by those familiar with the drum corps activity. He brought Spirit the corps' first caption championship in 1980, when the drum line tied for high percussion at the DCI Championships in Birmingham, Alabama. Tom left the corps after the 1981 season but his influence continues today. In addition to putting Spirit's percussion section on the map, he laid the groundwork and expectation for lasting excellence by inspiring a legacy of former students to come back to teach and lead Spirit’s drum line.