By Frank Lewis

November 15, 2013

Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

Portsmouth High School graduate and Ohio State University drum major David Pettit has been awarded Most Inspirational Bandperson status by his peers.

“The band has our annual concert at the Veterans Memorial, and at that concert they announce one award, Most Inspirational Bandperson, which is voted on by the band,” Pettit said. “And I was voted as one of the finalists, and then they announced the winner at the concert.”

Pettit described the experience as, “awesome. It was a huge honor.” Pettit said there are 225 members in the Ohio State University Band.

Through a series of circumstances, early on in the football season, Pettit found himself thrust into the front of the band considered the best in the land.

“It’s the thrill of a lifetime,” Pettit said. “It was everything I had imagined it would be and more, running down that ramp for the first time. It is the coolest thing I’ve ever done in my life. It is just amazing - all the sights and sounds - it is something I’ve been dreaming about since I was a little kid. Four years of work in college and three years before that in high school, it all culminated into those three ramps that I got to do, so it was awesome.”

The YouTube video of The Ohio State University Marching Band Michael Jackson salute went viral this year and right out front of that band was Pettit.

“We did what we’ve always done,” Pettit said. “Worked hard and put on the best show that we can. Its great we’re getting recognized for it.”

Pettit said there is a lot of physical work involved in the job of drum major.

“We have two hours of practice every day, Monday through Friday,” Pettit said. “So while I’m at that I’m learning the formations for that week and where I need to be, and I’m starting to put my routines together. Most shows are put together in one week, so the other band members and I have to put in extra time. For me that means writing my twirling routines and figuring out where I’m going to do what tricks, and also getting my routines together for the Skull Session.”

The weekly Skull Session takes place at St. John Arena. The band performs for fans prior to the Buckeyes home football games.

One of the questions Pettit is asked the most is where did he learn to lean all the way back touching the turf with his plume.

“I did all of my training up here (Columbus),” Pettit said. “We have a training program which I started into in my freshman year of high school. Now I’m in charge of the program.”

The most famous Ohio State drum major is hands down Dwight Hudson, who basically set the standards for the job. Pettit said he was proud when Hudson sent him a message on Facebook.

“David, from one MIB to the newly crowned MIB - Congratulations! Welcome to to the very special club. I cannot think of anyone more deserving than you. Keep up the good work!”

Pettit said he has a lot of people to thank for his success beginning with his mother and his father. He also thanked Shawn Brehm, Greg Eyer, Stewart Kitchen, Damon Cockrel and Shelley Graf.

“Those are the people I worked with the most to get to where I am today,” Pettit said.

Pettit is a piano performance major but is also taking pre-med prerequisites. He said he is hoping to go to medical school after he graduates. He would come about that career choice honestly. His father is Dr. George Pettit and his mother is Carolyn Pettit, a nurse.

“What makes us so proud of David was actually seeing him in action,” Carolyn Pettit said. “He makes it a point to reach out to everyone, not only fellow band members but people in the stands and on campus. So many young people commented on his Facebook page about how much he had helped them, how he had made them feel OK, or good about themselves, his positive attitude, etc. I think he won this award, not because he is inspirational in a ‘cheerleader’ sense or just because he is so talented, but because he is so kind and good to everyone, and frankly because he did do an outstanding job.”

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.