Marching Admirals heading to Grand National Championships

The Farragut High School Marching Admirals are headed boldly where only one other Knox County School band has gone before.

The group is leaving for Indianapolis, Indiana, Thursday, Nov. 9, for the Bands of America Grand National Championships, where they will compete against 100 bands from all over the country Friday, Nov. 10.

“It is the first time for the Farragut Marching Admirals to attend, and we are only the second band in Knox County to attend,” said Keith Clupper, director of bands for FHS.

“We will also be among just a handful from the state of Tennessee to perform.”

The Marching Admirals’ 160 members will have a short practice Thursday morning, Nov. 9, before loading the busses to head to Indianapolis, where the competition will take place in Lucas Oil Stadium.

They are set to compete first thing Friday morning in the preliminaries with a chance to be selected for the semi-finals, and ultimately, the finals.

“The Bands of America is a fairly elite group of programs,” Clupper said. “It is considered the pinnacle for marching bands.”

It will be the final competition of the season for the Marching Admirals, who will be missing the second round Class 6A playoff game this Friday night at Maryville.

Since this is the band’s first time at the competition, Clupper said this year’s goal is to see

the Marching Admirals make at least the semi-finals, where bands will be narrowed down to 30 competitors.

Only 12 will make it to the finals.

Regardless of the outcome, Clupper said he is just glad Band members — especially the seniors — will have the opportunity to see performances by some of the top bands in the nation.

The Bands of America program is open to any school that wants to attend, Clupper said. “But, you don’t go until you feel prepared for [it].

“The expectation is that there will be a certain level of professional achievement, and I believe we are more than ready.”

The Marching Admirals are not the only group from FHS to compete this weekend: the school’s 27-member Percussion Ensemble also will be competing at the same time in Percussion Arts Society International Conferences.

“It is quite an honor to be part of both,” Clupper said.

Support from the school, the Band Boosters and football head coach Eddie Courtney was instrumental in making this weekend possible.

“The parents and the boosters have all been so supportive,” he said. “It takes a lot of financing, and parents and students have all worked very hard at fund-raising for the trip.”

While the outcome remains to be seen, Clupper is more than pleased with the Marching Admirals, and its efforts.

“I can honestly say that it is a pleasure to work with this group. They try their hardest to do everything you ask them to do.

“We have a culture and expectation of excellence, and it has been very refreshing, fulfilling and rewarding to be part of it.”