Those privileged enough to perform in one of his ensembles have seen a side of Thom that many others have not. Thom has this ability to make you want to work harder than you’ve ever worked before. Granted sometimes you’d do anything to stop doing pushups, in all honesty Thom has a way of bringing out your desire to be the best you can be. I had the privilege of playing in the UMass Amherst drumline from 1991-94, and again in 1996. My years at UMass Amherst were amazing, largely due to experiences I had performing.
Thom provided us with many other opportunities. Whether it was performing before hundreds of fellow percussionists at the Percussive Arts Society or at the Berklee Jazz Festival with Gregg Bissonette, Casey Scheuerell and Dennis Chambers, Thom exposed us to the endless possibilities we had as performers.
In 1993, with many other UMassers, I made the pilgrimage to join Thom with the Star of Indiana Drum and Bugle Corps. That summer with Star was one of the hardest, most physically and mentally challenging experiences I ever had. Each of us who marched that year knew what we were putting on the field was unlike anything that had been done before. We trusted Thom and we knew as long as we watched, listened and learned, at the end of the day we would be unstoppable. Thom taught me that you have to put everything into something to make it great. And why would you want to do anything less than great? It may sound cliché, but I use those lessons everyday.
Thom taught me to give 110% all of the time, that there are no excuses, and that you have to dig deep to achieve what you want. I don’t think I would be the person I am today without having met Thom. I am honored to call him not only a teacher, but also my friend.
– Jen Welty ’96�