JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – With the return of the East Tennessee State University football team in 2015 following nearly a dozen years of dormancy, the ETSU Marching Bucs made a not-so-quiet rebirth, too.
Scrapped when ETSU shuttered the football program, university officials wanted the marching band to return but quietly speculated it could take years before reaching full strength.
The band’s dramatic resurgence has been a pleasant surprise.
“I attribute our growth to our amazing students. They enjoy the family atmosphere and they love performing and entertaining our audiences,” said Dr. Joe Moore, director of athletic bands and an associate professor in the Department of Music at ETSU. “They also love representing ETSU and promoting the university.”
Numbers tell part of the story.
In 2015, the band had 163 members. In 2022, members total 297 – a figure that has grown each of the last seven years.
The band performs during football and basketball season. The Marching Bucs usually lead the Buc Walk, a game-day tradition at ETSU, before home football games.
The band also plays an important role in university recruitment.
“We have a wonderful opportunity to perform at regional high school marching band competitions as well as hosting the Bands of America contest. High school students from all over are able to see the quality of the program as well as the enjoyment our members have from being a part of it,” Moore said. “Many high school students are impressed with our performances and want to continue their band experience when they come to college. A poll of last year’s marching band yielded over 190 students who indicated that being in the ETSU Marching Bucs influenced their decision to attend ETSU.”
One of the most diverse groups on campus, members of the Marching Bucs major in a wide array of fields, from interior architecture to storytelling.
“The marching band is very much a family. They provide a supportive and caring environment for each other,” Moore said. “We have students from all backgrounds and all walks of life. When potential students see this, they know this is a place where they will be welcomed and have a place to belong.”
To learn more about the Marching Bucs, as well as requirements and qualifications to join, visit etsu.edu/cas/music/ensembles.php#tab-2-3.