Bass Staff

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Benjy Braude : Bass Staff

Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Benjamin, known by most as “Benjy,” moved to Indiana for college and has been an active part of the marching arts community in Indiana and across the Midwest ever since. Benjy graduated from Indiana University with a bachelor’s degree in biology as well as a master’s degree in secondary education. In his time in college, Benjy performed with the Indiana University Drumline for five years, and is proud to be working with the group once again as the IU Drumline’s current assistant director. In his marching career, Benjy performed in DCI with the Blue Stars Drum & Bugle Corps from 2013-15, and in WGI with Legacy from 2013-14 and with Rhythm X from 2015-16, earning the WGI Percussion Independent World silver medal in 2015. Since aging out, Benjy has worked as a bass technician with high schools across the Cincinnati and Indianapolis areas, most recently Center Grove High School, Legacy, Legacy Open, and the Colts Drum and Bugle Corps. Benjy is proud is to be endorsed by Innovative Percussion.

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Brandon Varker : Bass Staff

Brandon is a Photographer and Videographer from Cincinnati, Ohio with plans to become a videographer in the music scene. He is currently the full time media coordinator for the band Harbour. Music has had a major influence on Brandon’s life with early beginnings playing the saxophone in the 5th grade. After playing the saxophone for several years he decided to make the switch to percussion and has been playing ever since.

Brandon marched snare drum from 2007-2011 at Colerain High School. After taking a year off, he then moved to bass drum where he marched with the Legacy Performing Arts Percussion Ensemble from 2013-2015. He has taught at many different schools around the tri-state area including Connor High School in Hebron, Kentucky, Turpin High School, Anderson High School, Elder High School and was a percussion Director at Harrison High School.

Alyssa Sterling : Bass Staff

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Alyssa Iwinski began her marching career at Henry Clay High School in 2006, where she developed a passion for bass drumming. She entered the WGI community in 2008 when she became a member of Tates Creek Indoor Ensemble, and marched with TCIE for 6 years from 2008-2013. She then marched Gateway Indoor in 2014 and Matrix Percussion in 2015, when she was engaged to her now-husband, Zachary Sterling at WGI World Championships. Alyssa also participated in DCI, marching with the Phantom Regiment in the summers of 2013 and 2014. Since aging out, she has graduated with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Psychology and most recently, a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of Kentucky. She has enjoyed integrating concepts from her academic background to her passion for education and percussion performance. In her free time, Alyssa enjoys spending time with her husband, hiking, and playing with her sweet kitten, Amelia.

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Zac Sterling : Bass Staff

Zac is from O’Fallon, Illinois, where he began his musical career with O’Fallon Township High School in 2007. He has been involved in the marching arts ever since. His marching experience includes Matrix (2015), Gateway Indoor (2014), Carolina Crown (2012), and the Madison Scouts (2010, 2011, 2014). Since aging out, he has taught and consulted with several independent and scholastic groups in the activity. Zac has a B.A. in Criminology, an M.A. in International Finance, and will graduate with a J.D./M.B.A. in May from the University of Kentucky. He is married to Alyssa, with whom he has enjoyed performing, traveling, and raising their cat, Amelia.

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Zach Strong : Bass Staff

This will be Zach’s fourth season with the organization, and his first on staff. His experience in the marching arts started back in 2010 at La Salle High School in Cincinnati, OH. His experience with the independent side of the marching activity would then begin in 2014, marching snare drum for ConneXus out of Columbus, OH their first year in Open Class. He then went on to start his bass drumming career with Tate’s Creek Indoor Ensemble out of Lexington, KY. For the 2016 season, he traveled up to Indianapolis and began his three year marching career with Legacy, finally aging out in 2018. During this time, he also spent the 2017 DCI season on bass drum with The Phantom Regiment. Zach is currently studying Electromechanical Engineering at Cincinnati State, with a focus on Renewable Energy. Meanwhile, he teaches the marching visual program for the Forest Hills Marching Band’s outdoor and indoor percussion programs. Zach resides in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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Michael Fitzgerald : Bass Staff

Michael first started marching with the Boston Crusaders in 2006, spending three years in the bass line (2006, 2007, and aging-out in 2010). After helping there on admin staff in 2011, Michael's main connection to the marching arts was through supporting friends/organizations however possible while studying mathematics/computer science. Now, he works full-time as a digital marketing specialist for Big Tree Marketing in southeastern Iowa. After connecting with good friend and fellow BAC member Andrew Fortuna at DCI finals this summer, he expressed his desires to be involved with 317 Performing Arts. This will be his first year on bass drum staff.


Ethan Wright : Bass Staff

Ethan Wright is an Indianapolis native. After his first trip to WGI Finals as a spectator in 2007, Ethan became enthralled by the activity and started taking private lessons immediately; later beginning his own marching career with Center Grove High School. After his graduation in 2014 and eight seasons with Center Grove's Marching Band and Indoor Percussion Ensemble, Ethan went on to march bass drum with Legacy Indoor Percussion (2015), was a charter member of Matrix Open Percussion Ensemble (2016-2017), and ended his WGI marching career with Matrix World in 2018. Ethan also took the DCI field with Pacific Crest Drum and Bugle Corps in 2017.

Since his age-out, Wright has spent his time teaching high schools in both Indiana and Michigan, including Reeth's Puffer High School, Perry Meridian High School, and currently serves as the bass tech for Franklin Community High School from Franklin, Indiana. When he isn't in front of a bass line, Ethan works on and builds computers, performs with the Indianapolis Colts Drumline, and is pursuing a career in Computer Sciences.