The Crystal Lake Thunder is an indoor drumline competing as a WGI Class A Independent group. In their 3-year history they have grown from a beginner performance group into a WGI Finalist.
Indoor drumline is a competitive winter-based pageantry art centered around rudimentary marching percussion. Stemming from competitive drum and bugle corps, the indoor drumline activity encompasses scholastic and independent circuits under one umbrella organization called Winter Guard International - or WGI. Thunder operates as an independent group, competing in the Percussion Independent A class. Most students of independent organizations range in age from 14 to 22, at which point you graduate from the activity. Each ensemble prepares a floor show lasting approximately 6 minutes, and spends their season rehearsing and perfecting their program until meeting mid-April in Dayton, Ohio for the WGI Percussion Championships.
Performance. Education. Community.
Performance. Education. Community.
About the Crystal Lake Strikers
In the fall of 2007, three area men sat in a local coffee shop imagining the possibilities of forming a drumline that would achieve two essential goals:
provide a performing outlet for drummers of college age and beyond
support and educate aspiring young musicians
In assembling the group, the founders discussed the simple fact that there are so many people who started playing percussion at a very young age, stayed with it in the various bands and drum corps, then... nothing. The people who have an outlet for their musical training past high school and college are rare. We believe this drumline provides an outlet for those individuals.
Within a matter of months following that meeting, the founders of the Crystal Lake Strikers Drumline, Aaron Shepley, Brett Hopkins and Thomas Kundmann, realized the first of these dreams when the line with the motto "have fun and don't suck" stepped off in the Crystal Lake Gala Parade. In over a decade since, the Strikers have performed in front of millions of people live and on national television. The group has grown to become one of the most popular entertainment groups in the Chicago area.
But the Strikers weren’t done with performing and entertaining. There was the second goal to be achieved. That decade has seen the creation of five educational programs to support the performing arts in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.
The Strikers All-Stars – Since 2009, the All-Stars have provided a performance outlet for high school drummers in the same manner as the Strikers adult group.
Convergence Winterguard – Established in 2014, Convergence is a competitive winterguard on the Midwest Colorguard and WGI tours.
Girls on the Drum – Founded in 2015, GOTDrums uses lively tunes to teach music fundamentals and drumming basics to elementary school girls while building confidence and synergy among the members.
Crystal Lake Thunder – Starting in 2016, Thunder is the Crystal Lake Strikers entry in WGI competitive drumline circuit including an Independent Class A finalist showing in 2019.
Kingpins – Since its first session in 2019, Kingpins has hosted over 30 special needs students providing a creative outlet and percussion instruction.
Through these programs, the Strikers have instructed over 300 students. We have plans for more programs in the future.
A TERRIBLE LOSS
On May 4, 2020, the Strikers were devastated by the loss of our founding brother and longtime Crystal Lake Mayor Aaron Shepley.
In 2008, Aaron took a new hobby of drumming and, along with Brett Hopkins and Tom Kundmann, created the Crystal Lake Strikers. What started as summertime diversion for local adult drummers grew into one of the most popular entertainment acts in the Chicago area. The Strikers have marched hundreds of miles in local parades, performed in front of millions of people and appeared live on television multiple times.
The organization has also expanded to fulfill Aaronâ€™s vision of providing education to local students. He was immensely proud of the programs involving more than 100 students that have been created.
Aaron was a literal force of nature who loved the city where he grew up and the drumline he founded. The Strikers would not exist today without his vision, energy, and drive. We are all blessed to have been touched by him.
A memorial fund in Aaron's name has been established at Home State Bank, for more information or to donate, please visit the Aaron T. Shepley Community Fund page.