‘Betsy Band captures 2022 Tennessee Division II Marching Band State Championship

Published 10:41 pm Sunday, November 6, 2022

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After a ‘hypnotizing’ performance in the finals of the 2022 Tennessee Division II State Marching Band Championship hosted by Stewarts Creek High School in Smyrna, all the Elizabethton High School ‘Betsy Band could do was stand by on pins and needles to see if they had done enough to add another state championship title to their trophy case.
As the bands were being called off by placement, the final two bands left standing were Signal Mountain and Elizabethton and when Signal Mountain was announced as the second-place band, the kids from Elizabethton knew they would be hauling home the hardware on Sunday with the title of ‘State Champions.’
Not only did the band capture the Grand Champion title, the ‘Betsy Band either won or tied for first in every category that came with honors including first place in percussion, first place in color guard, and first place in drum major. The band also captured Best Visual, Best Effect, and Best Musical Performance.
The final score for the band was 93.85 in the competition which came with a bevy of challenges including high winds and rain that passed through the area.
“I am super proud of them,” said EHS band director Jonathan Valentine in his second season at the helm of the program. “They worked so hard obviously. Every band kid that was there worked hard all year but these kids – it’s just a special place and a special recipe that we put all together. They were great in prelims as they performed at 2:38 pm with a big storm going through Nashville. It didn’t rain on us, but the wind was bad with props going everywhere and we didn’t have some of our microphones. It calmed down and the weather was beautiful last night and they gave the best performance since I have been a band director here. They knocked it out of the park in the finals and managed to pull out a victory by .15 of a point. I am proud of them and their hard work.”
Elizabethton City Director of Schools Richard VanHuss along with EHS Principal Dr. Jon Minton made the trip and beamed with pride about how the students in the Elizabethton Band have represented the school and the community.
“Anyone that lives in this community riding near the high school during a late summer or fall afternoon and typically the lights are on and you peek in, the band is in there practicing,” said VanHuss. “Just the amount of work that they put in to hone their craft to reach this level of excellence, it’s very rewarding to see the fruits of their labor for that and it’s such a proud tradition with the ‘Betsy Band and to see them take it to another level and another step is really impressive.”
The band pulled into the Elizabethton High School parking lot around 5 pm Sunday to a rousing welcome from a large group of supporters and as the students stepped off the three tour buses, there were signs of exhaustion from a whirlwind weekend. There was still time enough for the band to line up their hardware to show off to local media and their families who greeted them.
Junior Drum Major Zada Hardin departed the bus wearing a newly acquired Bucee outfit picked up on their stop at the popular interstate stopover. Hardin shared how the outcome on Saturday night put an exclamation on all the hard work put in this year by the entire ‘Betsy Band.
“In one word – surreal,” said Hardin. “Just from being out there in prelims to getting first in every caption, I was so proud. Hearing our names called in the finals of being in first place was just so surreal in the moment. I had to take a double take. I am very proud of my bandmates. I knew it was an amazing show and I was very nervous because it was a more difficult show than last year. We had to put in a lot of extra work to get to where we are today. When we walked out there I could hear the ‘Betsy Band fans and they were just going crazy and I could see all the lights shining and hear all the cowbells and I heard them screaming for us the whole time and they never stopped.”
When asked about the welcome home, Valentine said that it just went to show how much the community loves and supports the band,
“No doubt that the band is loved in this town and that always makes me grateful that we are in a community that cares so much about its band and understands what kind of ambassador that we can be for the region and the state and they just throw that support behind us all the time,” Valentine said.
The band still has unfinished business as they will be on the road to support the Cyclone football team Friday in Anderson County as well as preparing for the Christmas Parade as well as their Christmas concert.

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