As Ann Sobrato High School senior Catherine Le celebrated her selection as an All-American drum major last summer, the 17-year-old senior had no idea what went along with the honor.
Le, chosen by Varsity Cheerleading & Dance for her performances at the weeklong United Spirit Association camp, was ecstatic when it was announced that she would be joining 14 other drum majors for a performance at the 2019 Rome New Year’s Day Parade in Rome, Italy.
“At the end of the camp at the awards ceremony, I knew that All-American was a title you could earn but I didn’t really know I was going get it. It was super exciting,” said Le, who was then handed a brochure to Rome, Italy.
On Dec. 26, Le—who worked her way up the drum major ranks for the marching band at Ann Sobrato High School—boarded a plane bound for Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport.
She was one of 300 high school dancers, cheerleaders and drum majors chosen to perform out of the top 12 percent of athletes who attended Universal Dance Association, National Dance Alliance and United Spirit Association camps across the country.
“It was super fun,” said Le of the experience that, of course, included sightseeing. “I got to see a lot of cool stuff. Being inside the Colosseum was really cool.”
On New Year’s day, Le, decked out in her Sobrato uniform, marched through the streets of Rome in the parade route—performing a routine in tandem with the other drum majors selected from different summer camps across the country. She was given an instructional video in October and practiced on her own before one group rehearsal after arriving in Italy.
“It was really really cool,” said Le, who flew back on Jan. 2. “It was kind of strange because people were cheering, ‘God job,’ and (other words of encouragement), but they were saying it all in Italian.”
Le studied up on the foreign language prior to the trip, and said she was able to order herself a cup of coffee in Italian.
“It was very special,” said Catherine’s mother, Theresa Le. “My husband and I were very excited and proud of her for earning the trip to begin with. There was of course no question we would do whatever was needed to do to get her on the trip.”
Le, who started learning the piano and took voice lessons at age 4, began playing the french horn as a seventh grader at Martin Murphy Middle School. She also played the trumpet, mellophone and ukulele before graduating to Ann Sobrato High School, where she became an assistant drum major by her sophomore year. This is her first as Sobrato’s head drum major.
“She would not have been on this trip if it weren’t for her music education with Morgan Hill Unified School District and her band director, Greg Chambers,” Theresa Le said.