Meet Isabella Wilson
The postponement of the Southern Conference football season from fall 2020 to spring 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic not only meant no football on the field, it also meant the suspension of everything that goes along with it, including marching band. So when Dr. Joe Moore, ETSU director of athletic bands, whose 2020 Marching Bucs had been slated to form the largest band in the history of the university, put out a call for students to volunteer to be part of a small pep band so a few members could stay in practice, he thought he would only hear from a handful of musicians who might be living on or near the Johnson City campus.
However, Dr. Moore was so overwhelmed by the response from band members, who were not only eager to practice and perform but who also longed for in-person fellowship with their Marching Bucs family, that he was able to form two good-sized pep bands that performed a series of outdoor concerts for the campus community during the fall semester. And not only were these students locals, some were willing to come from longer distances to participate.
One of the students exhibiting such dedication is Isabella Wilson, a freshman business management major from the Chattanooga region. Wilson has been taking all her classes virtually from her home in Ooltewah and driving to and from the ETSU campus for practices and performances. She played mellophone in one of the two fall bands, and now enjoys being part of the pep band that performs on the field and in the stands during this spring’s football games.
That is amazing dedication for you to travel from Chattanooga to Johnson City and back for all of your practices and performances. What drives or motivates you to do that?
I just really like playing my instrument and being around such a great group of people. It’s honestly better than sitting at home and doing online stuff! Attending virtually kind of feels like “high school, part two.” I’ve been at home, I log in for class, I go to work, and then do it again the next day. It feels lonely, staring at a screen, like watching TV.
Tell me about your first trip to perform as part of the marching band last fall.
I was kind of scared, because I was still at home and online, and hadn’t had any interaction on campus with anybody. But everyone was super nice, and we all clicked together really fast. We just went through the music and had fun with it. It made me want to come back. It was kind of weird, too, because there’s a wide range of ages – there are freshmen all the way to a couple of graduate students. There’s people that have kids who are in marching band. It was different. I thought, “Wow, that’s cool!”
I understand you also play French horn. When did you first get into music, and what do you enjoy most about it?
I started taking music in sixth grade and started in marching band during my freshman year of high school. I really like the feeling it gives me whenever I’m with this group of people, and we’re making music. We’re expressing ourselves together as a group. I’ve been at performances where we’ve made the audience cry, and we’ve made them smile. It’s just a really great feeling to be able to do that with a group of people without expressing words.
What drew you to ETSU?
I had a friend who graduated before me and came here. She said, “Hey, you should come visit and check it out.” At first when I came, it was rainy, but we walked around campus anyway. It was okay, and I was trying to be open to other places. But I kept coming back for football games, and then my audition for the music program, and I really started to like the atmosphere. It seemed to be a family-type college, where everyone knows each other, and you can just – well, before COVID – go sit in the grass with people and do your homework together or just hang out. I like the area, with the mountains. And it reminds me of Chattanooga, too, with the train that goes by campus. I really like that it’s not so big that you get lost, but it’s not too small, either.
What are some of the things you most look forward to about being a resident on campus next fall?
I look forward to just getting to move to ETSU and be a part of other music ensembles like the Concert Band, as well as other groups like the Economics Club or one of the gaming groups, and meeting other people in addition to music students. Some of the outdoor painting classes they have look fun, and one of my friends did Ultimate Frisbee and that kind of stuff. I’ll be able to get a different perspective on what else ETSU has to offer that you can’t really experience online.
What led you to major in business administration, and what are your career goals?
I’m honestly trying to figure out what my career will be. My mom works at U.S. Xpress, and I kind of like the things she’s doing, so I thought, “Hey, I want to do that kind of thing.” I thought I’d try business management, and I like it so far. My concentration is in human resources management. I’ve worked at Chick-fil-A for almost two years, and I like making the guests happy. I like how we solve problems together. That’s why I picked that concentration.