The Inception and Early Years
The story of Gateway began in a hotel restaurant in Dayton, OH in April of 2003. A couple brilliant minds shared some drinks together and began a special conversation about giving St. Louis an independent indoor percussion organization. These two people were Paul Richardson and Mike Davis, both who wanted to give music students in the St. Louis region the opportunity to be involved with an independent marching ensemble.
Named after the Gateway Arch national monument in St. Louis, "Gateway Percussion" (the original name of the group before becoming "Gateway Indoor Percussion") was born.
Gateway's first production, "Nerd Nation," was a success. The group had numerous local performances, and competed in the WGI Nashville and Dayton Percussion Regionals, getting promoted from A class to Open.
In 2005, Chad Schaedler and John Steinbruegge joined the Gateway team after earning a silver medal with the Pride of SMSU. With that year's production, "Alone in a Crowd," Gateway stepped up the competitive level and was promoted to World Class in WGI. The group made WGI Finals that same year and received 11th place.
Synergy and Gateway Open
In 2007, closely tied to the organization, Gateway formed a group called Gateway Open, which competed in Open class in both the Winter Guard International (WGI) and Mid Continent Color Guard Association (MCCGA) circuits. This concept was reinvented in 2008 as Synergy Indoor, an A Class group, given independence from Gateway although it retained its ties to the organization. Neither Gateway Open nor Synergy Indoor have existed since the closure of the 2008 season.
Michael Jackson Saves the Day
After the 2007 season, which saw a drop in competitive success and many members who left the organization, the group was in trouble. Gateway needed to recover and come out in 2008 with a production that offered a breath of fresh air to steer the organization back in the right direction. Thus, 2008 saw the creation of “Michael,” a crowd favorite show exploring the music of Michael Jackson.
Regarded as an important and special moment in our story, the 2008 season was the most successful yet, as the group finished 8th place at WGI World Championships.
The McIntosh and Hinshaw Era
At the 2011 WGI Advisory Board Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, NV, Michael McIntosh spoke with longtime friend and Gateway’s then Program Coordinator, Chad Schaedler. It was time to put aside WGI judging and go "all in" on the competitive side. From that moment, Michael McIntosh became an integral component of the Gateway family. Michael suggested a good friend of his, Richard Hinshaw, as the Visual Designer, along with Alan Miller as the Front Ensemble Arranger. Soon afterwards, Gateway’s 2012 Design was official, announced online, which ignited the curiosity of the WGI community.
The 2012 Design Team proposed an idea for a show for the first year WGI allowed the use of lights in groups’ productions. Due to the connection with Conference Technologies, Inc.—one of the organization's key sponsors —Gateway was able to secure the rental of a 12,000-lumen projector and projector screen. The designers offered the idea of making the screen not just a prop, but a character itself—a revolutionary idea never before seen in WGI. Known as her nickname “Mona Lisa”—inspired by the floating head of Oz and the Big Brother in George Orwell’s 1984—an imperialist dictator of a futuristic dystopian society was born.
Gateway had its most successful season yet, finishing 7th place at WGI World Championships. However, three weeks before accomplishing that feat, tragedy struck...
On March 25th, 2012, only three weeks before WGI Finals, Gateway faced one of its largest challenges ever. While traveling back to St. Louis after MCCGA Championships in Springfield, MO, Gateway’s equipment trailer veered off the highway in the dark of night. It rolled multiple times, scattering valuable equipment along the side of the highway. Although much of the equipment was damaged beyond repair, the most important and fortunate aspect of the situation was the driver of the trailer walked away from the accident with only a few scratches, and a host of bad memories.
The evening after the accident, the Gateway directors organized a conference call with all the members, informing them of the news, but assuring everyone that we could come together and find a way to finish the season.
The following weekend, the staff, members, alumni, and volunteers of Gateway came together as a family to rebuild and recover. With the gracious help of several other programs, Gateway was able to borrow a truck and enough equipment to bring the show to life for WGI finals. Not only did the group survive, but we finished the season 7th place, the highest placement the organization had seen to date. The notorious crash of 2012 revealed a significant characteristic of the organization: our resilience.
After finishing 7th place in 2012, the organization was ready to take the next competitive step and attempt to not only climb higher in the ranks, but continue to produce high-quality art in 2013, our 10th year anniversary. Testing our musical and thematic limits, the Gateway designers wanted to take the audience to the other side of the world—to India.
For the 2013 program, Gateway offered a taste of Eastern music and worldviews to produce “Ajna,” a show exploring the concepts of the mind’s Third Eye and the six Chakras found in the Hindu religion. We wanted to use a projector screen again, although for a different purpose. Instead of representing the screen as a character, like in 2012, we wanted to make the screen a representation of the Third Eye—a multimedia expansion of a giant female’s face that covered the tarp.
“Ajna” saw competitive success again at the 2013 WGI Championships, finishing 7th place again. However, in 2014, the organization took another step forward and made a group that would eventually become the most successful Gateway ever.
A New Decade and Beyond…
In 2014, Gateway started a new decade and created a work of art that took the activity to a new level. Regarded as a show that "transcended the medium," as declared on his judge tape by WGI General Effect judge Dr. Joe Allison, "Oh Say Can You See" was a complete success. The group finished 5th place at WGI World Championships, but that competitive success was overshadowed by a more important aspect of the season: the education our members received of a pivotal moment in America's history, the Vietnam War. The 2014 Design Team didn't just want to do a show about Vietnam, they wanted the audience to feel as if they were in Vietnam.
Paying respect to fallen, M.I.A., and surviving war veterans, Gateway had a Vietnam War memorial replica that stood at the back of our "stage," which contained all the names found on the actual Vietnam War Memorial in Washington DC. Although many indoor percussion groups finish their shows with loud impacts and aggressive drumming, "Oh Say Can You See" concluded with an emotional display of the performers touching the Memorial, raising the peace sign, accompanied with an excerpt of Leann Rimes "Amazing Grace." Gateway pulled at the heartstrings of a respectful audience in UD Arena, giving WGI an emotional side of pageantry performance we hope to see in the future.