ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) – Happy Valley senior Abigail Steele still remembers the first time she picked up a flute.
“We were all in the band room in sixth grade and we were just trying out, you know, different instruments,” she recalled.
Not a single person had any luck with the woodwinds, except Steele.
“I took the head joint and I blew into it and it made a sound – and they were like ‘you made a sound on it,'” she said.
The rest, as they say, is history.
“It’s just such a beautiful instrument,” she explained. “Like, when you hear a flute, it’s just so elegant.”
As she practiced and improved, her technique seemed to mirror the instrument’s effortless elegance. Soon, as a high schooler, she took up a new role in the marching band mentoring other woodwinds.
“I’ve always liked being a leader. I’ve always liked helping people. I just always wanted them to be proud of what they’re doing.”
Ahead of her senior year, Steele saw an opportunity to continue that leadership at the highest level of the band as drum major.
“We did the auditions and I got the position,” she said. “I was just so ecstatic.”
Just a few months into the job she’s realized it comes with its fair share of challenges.
“Correcting some of my friends,” she responded. “Because, you know, you can’t show favoritism on the field.”
But, the small tweaks and successes make it all worth it.
“We get out on the field to practice and I see them do it perfectly and they’re so excited,” she said.
She hopes those small successes turn into major steps forward in the near future.
“I just want them to have that pride in themselves and their program, and I want them to be able to, like, go out and be like, hey, we’re Happy Valley, you know,” she said.
Steele still has plenty to look forward to with football games and competitions this fall.
When she graduates, she plans to attend college and eventually study radiology. It’s a career path that has a surprising amount in common with drum major duties.
“A lot of responsibility, a lot of wanting to help people,” she said.