“ETSU football makes emotional return after 12 years,” read headlines across Johnson City last fall.

Anyone in town knew that ETSU football was back. But that wasn’t the only thing that returned to the gridiron; the university also celebrated the creation of a new marching band program.

This week, the Marching Bucs have returned to the practice field for band camp, preparing for their second year alongside the ETSU football team.

Christian Zembower, director of bands, said the marching program brought as much of a change to the music program that the football team brought to the outside community.

“With the marching band came a major shift in the ETSU band program,” Zembower said. “I have been here for 10 years now, and when we were developing marching band, there was a whole new electricity in the students and in the learning that I hadn’t seen before.”

Zembower said that marching band extends students’ education far outside of the classroom by placing them in an immersive learning environment, as well as placing the members in a close-knit community.

“Students often knew each other prior to the marching band, but just in a classroom or ensemble setting, not as a family,” he said. “Last year when the marching band was formed, I could tell that the environment was much more cohesive and the program was made stronger. There is a sense of belonging, and a sense of community”

Music students share Zembower’s enthusiasm for the return of a marching program. Dylan Renner, a trumpeter and senior music and education student, said that the program contributes to his own education in a major way.

“As a music education student, being in a marching band at the collegiate level puts me in my future students’ shoes,” Renner said. “I have noticed that I am able to work at high schools much more efficiently, whether it be with teaching marching fundamentals, setting drill or working in sectionals and helping with the music itself.”

Zembower and Renner, from both a faculty and a student perspective, said that the marching band has made an impact on ETSU’s campus-wide community spirit and hope it will continue to do so.

“Football in this area is important to every university, and it is imperative that there is a good support system for that group,” Renner said. “That is where we come in.”