Behind the Curtain: Jan Zebrowski

Behind the Curtain: Jan Zebrowski

By Michael Reed

WGI World Championships is a huge event involving thousands of performers, multiple venues and two weekends. In order to make the event a smashing success, it takes the combined efforts of a dedicated team of people behind the scenes.  We invite you to take a moment and learn a bit about some of our crew that help make everything run smoothly in our peek… 

Jan Zebrowski has been a World Championship Volunteer for over a decade.  Hailing from Alsip, IL in the suburbs southwest of Chicago, she participated in drill team in high school and married a former Cavalier.  She has two children who were in marching band during their scholastic years.  Their father’s drum corps experience must have been a big influence, as her son followed in his footsteps by marching in the Cavaliers, while her daughter competed with both Blue Stars and Phantom Regiment. 

She likes to sew as a hobby, and that skill has proven beneficial over the years.  Jan put her seamstress talents to use helping with her children’s band program.  Later she assisted all three corps her kids marched with by sewing, fitting, and adjusting uniforms.

In 2002, she attended World Championships with Howie Mogil (known as the man with the funny hats who sells 50/50 raffle tickets during Finals).  After that first taste of World Championships, she said to herself “I want to do that.  I want to help.”  The next year, she came back as a Volunteer and has returned every season since.

Right from the beginning, she has been involved with selling programs and the 50/50 raffle.  The days are very long during Finals week.  When Jan and her crew arrive at the arena, the table and boxes of programs are waiting, but they need to be set up.  She explained “We have to be here when the doors open, even though the crowd is light.  It gets more crowded as the day goes on.” 

That means for a 9 am start, she is ready to start selling programs when the spectators are allowed into the building at 8 am.  Allowing for setup time and a few minutes for breakfast beforehand, it means early mornings.  By Saturday, after a couple of 14+ hour days, fatigue can definitely set in.

She mentioned the majority of programs are allotted to the UD Arena site on Thursday, and of course the other Prelim venues also have programs to sell.  As the weekend progresses and the other sites shut down when their competitions are complete, the programs left over from those sites are brought over to the main arena to sell for the larger Finals crowds.

Zebrowski has another important duty during the Finals contest:  She is responsible for counting the money from the 50/50 raffle sales.  She elaborated on the coordination efforts necessary to make it a success:  “We have people selling raffle tickets, they communicate with me and I communicate with the announcers, who tell the audience how large the pot is.   As the pot grows, more people buy in, especially when it gets up to $1,000 to win.  We’ve had as high as $2800 before, and now we started doing this with percussion as well.  It’s a team effort.”

When asked why she has lent her time for World Championships for over a decade, without hesitation she replied “It’s all about the kids.”  Her eyes got misty as she spoke about how much she enjoys seeing the kids succeed.  “I like to help people.  Seeing kids do good things is important to me.  They’re not out on the street.  They’re not doing bad things.”  With such a passion for service to both the kids and the activity, it’s a good bet Jan will continue to be one of the first people fans see as they enter UD Arena, greeting them at the Program booth with a big smile.