The East Tennessee State University versus University of Tennessee football game last weekend was not only a big game, but also served as a tribute for one student.
While marching at the game, ETSU student Haley Shanna Jarnagin carried with her a picture of her friend Brittney Eggers in her jacket. Eggers, who graduated from ETSU, passed away without ever having the chance to march with the Bucs.
“Brittney had stage four ovarian cancer,” Jarnagin said. “She had it for about two years, and she passed away about three years ago.”
Jarnagin explains that Eggers was a mentor to her and helped her passion for playing music grow.
“The whole reason we started hanging out was because I started playing clarinet,” Jarnagin said. “She had already played clarinet and was tutoring me.”
Because ETSU’s football team was not active, the marching band was not around when Eggers attended ETSU.
“There was a 12-year chunk of time where Marching Bucs weren’t around,” Jarnagin said. “When they got rid of football, the band went with them. So, Brittney never got the chance to march with the Marching Bucs.”
According to Jarnagin, she has done things to honor Eggers from the beginning. Carrying her picture with her while marching at the game came naturally.
“What gave me the idea is one of our faculty members was talking about how he was only in the marching band for one year before he graduated because it had just come back,” she said. “He was talking about all the members that never got a chance to physically be in the band. That made me think about Brittney.”
Jarnagin also wanted to do something not only for her friend, but for her friend’s family as well. She decided this simple, yet meaningful act would honor Eggers’ memory while showing her parents she was there in spirit.
“Brittney’s parents were going to be at the ball game,” Jarnagin said. “Losing a child is incomparable to anything else. I wanted to do something that would make them feel good. Even though she was never physically there, she was still a part of the whole experience.”
Jarnagin feels that not only is she marching for herself, she is marching for everyone who never had the opportunity she has.
“We’re marching for all the people that never got a chance to,” Jarnagin said.
Eggers’ memory lives on through Jarnagin, who has her in mind every time she plays music. She believes that her friend was a big part of where she is today. Without her, she doesn’t know if she would have ever been a part of the Marching Bucs.
“I wouldn’t be at ETSU,” she said. “I wouldn’t be a music major. I wouldn’t be doing the things that I’m doing. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for Brittney.”