DRILL HALL OF FAME
2020 SINGULAR INDUCTEE OF THE MILITARY DRILL HALL OF FAME
Blue Aces - Brandeis High School
Brandeis High School began as a new program in the San Antonio, Texas area opened just over ten years ago. They have attended the National High School Drill Championships every year since the school opened in the 2008-2009 school year. Counting the numbers of cadets that had ever put on a JROTC uniform that first year (with a finger or two left over), humble beginnings were expected for several early years. Soon we learned the level of expectations would be higher than that and the team would rise to meet and then quickly exceed any expectations ever before seen in JROTC.
To say the Blue Aces have made history in their short period in existence may be the biggest understatement in JROTC. Since the inception of the team in 2008 they have amassed 7 district championships. 8 state championships, 7 Air Force championships, 3 regional championships, 6 runners up National Championships and three national championships in just 11 years. They have literally started from ZERO to quickly become one of the most powerful unarmed drill & ceremony units in the nation. And their success shows no signs of stopping.
In their inaugural year nobody had ever HEARD of this program. They literally came out of nowhere to capture the Air Force State Drill Championship. I think the only people more blown away than the team members were the instructors. This has never been done to our knowledge in the history of military drill in the great state of Texas in any single service championship.
Despite their solid finish in Texas, as a brand new program with totally raw drillers, the event manager Sports Network International reached out to the program and asked if they planned to enter the Challenge Level competition of the National H.S. Drill Team Championships. Long-time attendee of the Nationals Ken Madden who was handling the bulk of the team logistics answered, "If I win anything, I'm the 31st best team in the country. No way, put us in the Masters Level event."
Working their tails off and knowing they were to compete against the best teams in the nation, the Blue Aces were up to the task as they earned first in the regulation phase and 5th overall against the best all-service units in the nation! Then the "streak" started. 2011, (Dawn Naville) 2012, 2013, (Janie Rosales) 2014 (Jessica Krzywonski) Runner-Up Champions, 2015 Champions (Kim Gilson). 2016 Alejandra Seminario), 2017 ( Karen Saniel) Runner-Up Champions and 2018 (Monique Bienan) and 2019 (Juliana DelGuidice) National Champions. The current commander of the unit is Mia Ramirez and the team was totally primed for excellence in 2020 only to have the event canceled due to the Covis-19 crisis. This team seems unstoppable and the question comes, "who has the talent to take them down?". I guess 2021 will be their first of many tests.
The team has so many "firsts" but no one person has made this happen. Something else that has NEVER happened in the 35+ year history of the Nationals? The Blue Aces have maintained this excellence with three different coaches! Major Luis Antequera the original coach directed their early success for the first three years. MSgt. James Mangiafico poured his efforts into their rise to true national excellence for the next six years. Current coach and DHoF inductee MSgt Ken Madden has handled both the Unarmed Blue Aces and the Armed Nighthawks team for the last three years. Quite a testament to both the instructors and the cadets.
The ladies have truly lived their now famous motto, "It's not me, it's WE and WE are the Blue Aces".