ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) – After a weekend of competition, the Elizabethton High School Betsy Band returned home Sunday evening as State Champions, welcomed home by friends and family.
The band competed at the Tennessee Division II State Marching Band Championship. Elizabethton went up against 26 bands from across the state of Tennessee, competing for the title of State Champions.
The competition is designated as Division II due to the requirement that schools have less than a thousand students enrolled in the school.
To the band, the title is a big accomplishment.
“That is a heavy title,” said Elizabethton High School band Director Jonathan Valentine. “It’s always going to mean something, especially in a town where athletics is very good. Everybody around here knows what a state championship means and how much hard work it takes to be successful.”
Valentine said the students were thrilled upon receiving the award.
“There is not a student out there that was not smiling ear to ear when we gave them their state championship medal,” Valentine said. “It doesn’t matter if this was their second time or if it was their first time. It’s a truly special night.”
Valentine has served as band director for the past 3 years. He said the back-to-back win solidifies how grateful he is to serve this band.
“Part of the reason why I took this job and moved from South Carolina was to be a part of a program that had a chance to be really special and was already really special,” Valentine said, “Having them allow me to be their band director has been really special.”
For the students, this championship is a sign that all their hard work has paid off.
“It was a lot of hard work this year but to see all these trophies come back home with us is really worth it,” said Junior Colorguard member Loren Watson.
“Everything in the end pays off for us,” said Senior marimba player Elijah Whicker. “Having all these trophies and being with all these people, it’s really paid off.”
For Watson, she is already beginning to prepare for next year.
“I’m thinking about next year,” said Watson. “I’m thinking about ‘what if we do it again?'”
For Whicker, this competition was his last as part of the Betsy Band. He said this is exactly how he wants to leave his high school band days behind.
“Being able to leave this legacy behind to all of my friends that have become my family over the years is something I’m absolutely grateful for.”
This win marks the second back-to-back win for the band, having done so previously in 2012 and 2013.