‘The Long Road Home’: Betsy Band captures 4th state title in seven years

Published 8:00 pm Monday, November 7, 2016

Star Photo/Curtis Carden                           Seniors of the Betsy Band pose with the hardware obtained over the weekend in Smyrna.

Star Photo/Curtis Carden
Seniors of the Betsy Band pose with the hardware obtained over the weekend in Smyrna.


It couldn’t have been scripted any better for the Elizabethton High School Betsy Band.
A sea of black and orange awaited the group Sunday, Nov. 6, as the band left Stewarts Creek High School in Smyrna as Division II state champions. Along with securing their fourth state title in seven years, the Color Guard earned its second consecutive Best in State nod while percussion also finished Best in State.
“Everything really came to fruition,” Betsy Band Director Perry Elliott said about the final day of competition. “All the students had been working toward this one goal since day one. I think it was one of those situations where they would not be denied. We had a preliminary performance and it was pretty fantastic. Our final performance, where they were selected state champions, was equally, if not better, than their first performance.”
With over 100 band members, everyone played an integral role to accomplish their objective, but Sunday was an emotional swan song for the senior class.
“It’s really funny. When they won as freshmen (in 2013), the show was entitled ‘Our Town’ and it was about Elizabethton,” Elliott said about his upperclassmen. “This year’s show was entitled ‘Under Construction … The Road That Leads Home.’ It’s about coming back to Elizabethton.”
The weekend provided solace for senior Drum Major Grace Roberts, who added her team knew the task was tall entering this year.
“It feels really great,” Roberts said. “We put in a lot of hard work. At the beginning of the year, a lot of people doubted us because we have a really difficult show. Just hearing what everybody had to say made us work even harder to prove people wrong.”
Grinning ear-to-ear, Roberts shared a popular sentiment shared by her senior bandmates once the judges announced their championship.
“At first, it was kind of like deja vu,” Roberts stated with a smile. “Because of the wow factor of them calling your name. But then you think about it being your senior year and you had the chance to nail it … it totally puts things in perspective.”
While state championships in band is something that’s been common over the years, the 2016 crew had a chance to knock out some accomplishments that haven’t been done before.
“We got to participate in an accomplishment that hasn’t been done at this school before,” Zeb Moore, drum captain and center snare drummer, said. “We won high percussion in the state. That has never been done in this school. To be the leader of the group and to get all my peers in the percussion where they needed to be has been an awesome experience. It hasn’t been easy … we have freshmen in both sections but we knew that judges don’t care what grade you’re in. It was just an awesome experience to receive that award and play like an all-senior section.”
Taking a page from their performance, the senior added that this year wouldn’t be easy.
“Just going into this season, we knew it was going to be a tough road,” Zeb Colter said. “But we knew we had a job to do and needed to get it done. It’s been an awesome experience the entire season, hanging out with all the guys over the year. The trips were so much fun. I love having a chance to hang out with 140-plus of my friends.”
Senior Parker Lewis was also able to finish with a top soloist award during the state competition.
“I don’t take any credit for it. I give it all to God because he’s blessed me with the ability to play trumpet,” Lewis said. “Also, I had a conversation with my friend (Nathan) Hargis. He plays trombone and he’s the other soloist during the ballad. Without him, it wouldn’t make no sense at all.”
But as the buses made that final turn on their way home, Roberts looked back with excitement for her teammates and for the support the entire band received from the community.
“Oh my gosh, I can’t even describe it,” she said. “Seeing everybody that supports the band, it started to give me tears.”
And fans of the Betsy Band will be following next year’s team closely, with a bevy of talent returning, according to the director.
“Every one of the students in the band are really good,” Elliott said. “I mean that very sincerely. I have over 40 juniors, so they’re ready and willing to step into that leadership role.”

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