2017 Hall of Fame Inductees

Spirit of Atlanta and the Hall of Fame Committee are proud to announce the inductees for the 2017 class of the Spirit of Atlanta Hall of Fame.

Jim Ott:  Already a member of the DCI Hall of Fame and a true legend in the annals of drum corps, Jim Ott is credited by many for creating the “Spirit of Atlanta sound” that carried the corps to national prominence.  Joining the corps staff in our second season, Jim led Spirit to the the highest debut placement within DCI’s elite finals in 1978.  Tragically, Jim’s legacy was cut short in the accident that occurred on that fateful night in July of 1980, yet his memory, his influence on the activity, and his vital role in building Spirit of Atlanta will live on forever.  Now the namesake for DCI’s High Brass award each season, Jim’s name is synonymous with achieving at the highest level.  We are honored that Jim is so ingrained in the fabric of Spirit of Atlanta, and it should come as no surprise to anyone that we will welcome Jim Ott into the Hall of Fame this summer.


Mike Morris: Being a charter member, Mike has been a part of the Spirit of Atlanta family literally from day one, and his incredible contributions spanning the decades are still seen and felt today.  After aging out, Mike immediately became a part of the “team” that helped move Spirit down the road, and his support was unwavering despite the many obstacles the corps faced.  He served as a tour manager, board member, coordinator of our home shows, and in countless other capacities over the course of more than 30 years.  But perhaps his most important legacy is the collection of thousands of photographs Mike has taken and shared with the world through nearly every single year the corps took the field.   If you were ever a member of Spirit, chances are Mike Morris has a photo of you somewhere.  Like his photography, Mike is a timeless part of the Spirit of Atlanta story.  Now, he will forever be a member of the Hall of Fame.


Mike Back: Beginning as a marching member in 1979, Mike found his passion for Spirit of Atlanta, and it has never waned.  He joined Tom Float’s staff after aging out, and before long found himself in front of the line as the percussion caption head in 1982.  His drum lines are among the most memorable in Spirit’s long history, and the list of his students who have gone on to become great leaders, educators and performers of their own is staggering.  Mike grew with the corps through the all-important 80’s and served in many additional roles including the Board of Directors, and his talents have made him one of the most elite music educators in the Atlanta area, leading the incredible Walton program for decades.   In Spirit of Atlanta, Mike found a family (including his wife), a career path, and a lifetime of success.  In Mike Back, Spirit of Atlanta found a brother, a leader, and a historic figure whose influence will always be felt.  Now, his presence will always be seen as a member of the Hall of Fame.


Margaret Collins:  When her daughter Judi decided to join a fledgling drum corps in 1977 called Spirit of Atlanta, Margaret had almost no idea what that even meant. She was instantly drawn to the activity and the family atmosphere that Spirit was creating, and contributed her time, energy, and talent into helping the corps prosper.  She was a champion of the food crew from very early on, led by example, and set the standard for what it meant to give unselfishly to the Spirit organization while inspiring others to do the same.  Even after Judi aged out, Margaret’s love for the corps lived on, and she was a fixture of the behind-the-scenes efforts for a decade.  Eventually, she joined the Board of Directors and was able to help guide the organization in even more important ways.   Many drum corps over time have had a “Super-Mom” at some point.  Margaret was our first, and her legacy shows that you don’t need to have been a member of the corps to make a Hall of Fame-worthy contribution.

Thanks to all who participated in the nomination and voting process.  There was an incredible list of finalists to choose from, and all truly deserved the spotlight this nomination has provided for them.  Thankfully, next season will offer another opportunity for everyone deserving of this recognition.  We honor our other finalists this season Ken Bodiford, Will Campbell, Tom Float, Sal Salas, Tam Easterwood, Brad Caraway, and Jim Clark.

Please make plans to join us Friday, June 23rd, 6:30pm, at The Mansour Center in Marietta for the 2017 Spirit of Atlanta Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.  This dinner/gala event will showcase our inductees as well as highlight several other special and memorable moments.  Last year’s ceremony was a sell-out and well-loved, so we have upgraded and expanded to a venue worthy of this event.  This will be a special night that you won’t want to miss.   Purchase tickets online now at spiritdrumcorps.org/product-category/tickets/