Adjusting to difficulties, limits, Marching Admirals plug ahead

  • Farragut High School Marching Admirals trumpeters, from left, Mason Fox, Evind Granroth, Thomas Nagy and Gabby Brown, during a recent practice. - Photo courtesy of Tina Fox

  • Farragut High School color guard members, from left, Olivia Holmes, Heather Hibelink and Calieigh Coval practice for the season ahead. - Photo courtesy of Tina Fox

  • Farragut High School’s Marching Band was able to socially distance and wear masks as they practiced for the upcoming home football season earlier this summer. - Photo courtesy of Tina Fox

The Farragut High School Marching Admirals may look a little different this year, but enthusiasm remains high for the program despite hurdles it has overcome during the last several months, including scuttled in-person band camp and a leadership change.

Their program, “1ne,” will only be performed at home football games this year. Members will not be wearing their official uniforms, but will be dressed informally in their “summer uniforms” of polo shirts and khaki shorts.

“But we will still be playing fun music, and if all they can do is stand there and play, it will be enough,” said assistant band director Elizabeth Gott, who is in her third year with the program. “This is their passion, it is what they do and where they belong. Just being able to get back to their safe space has meant everything to these kids.”

Barring unforeseen circumstances, the band will perform this Thursday, Sept. 10, during the Admirals game versus rival Oak Ridge on Bill Clabo Field. The band was scheduled to play at the opening game against Bradley Central Friday, Aug. 21, but thunderstorms prevented field access.

Gott stepped into the interim band director role earlier this summer when director Ken Carrico took a leave of absence for family reasons.

“I was happy to step in and do what needed to be done,” Gott said. “He and his wife are expecting, and I want him to do what he needs to do for his family right now.”

It was just one more challenge for a program that has overcome its share this year.

While the Marching Admirals had planned to host in-person band camp this summer, plans were dashed at the last minute due to COVID-19 concerns. But the nearly 150 band members soldiered on, participating virtually from home. Organizers and parents ultimately were able to provide on-campus practice sessions.

“There won’t be the band competitions we have had in the past, but we are looking for other opportunities to perform in the community, maybe for the opening of businesses or restaurants,” Gott said.

Darbi Flaherty has been working with Gott as her program assistant. “She is phenomenal,” Gott said.

In addition, “Parents have rallied around me, and have been so kind, understanding and supportive,” she added. “I’m just so thankful to be part of this program.”

“We stand behind Mrs. Gott 110 percent,” said Tina Fox, band parent and chaperone coordinator whose son, Mason, is a sophomore trumpet player and whose husband, Brian, is co-vice president of fundraising with the FHS Band Boosters. “She is a trouper and just took the ball and ran with it.”

“Our focus has been trying to give the kids as much normalcy with the band as possible,” Brian Fox.