The Gibbs Eagles Marching Band at Neyland
By Ralphine Major
The title was intriguing—‘No Stadium Tour.’ I was unaware that the Gibbs football team did not play any of their games on the home field in 2022. I have been a Focus writer since 2011, but I have been a Focus reader even longer. Steve Williams’ article of July 24, 2023, sparked the memory of a time many years earlier when Gibbs played their home games elsewhere.
For many years, Gibbs did not even have a football team. A young Ken Sparks was hired in the late sixties to restart the program, and S. L. Valentine became the new band director soon afterwards. (Both Sparks and Valentine are deceased.) With no field to practice on, the band rehearsed in an open field just below the driveway in front of the school. At that time, the front was along Tazewell Pike. The field was not marked for marching; and as I recall, it was sloping terrain. That year, Gibbs played all their home games at the Halls High School football stadium. In a year or two, things improved. Gibbs had a new football field, and the band had new uniforms. Recently, I came across the picture shown here of the Gibbs High School (GHS) Marching Band performing at an event in the early seventies at Neyland Stadium on The University of Tennessee campus in Knoxville. Though I had long forgotten that day, I was impressed to see the band’s circle drill formation. I doubt the circle would have looked that great on the unmarked, open field only a couple of years before! Have a safe school year!
Words of Faith: “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” Colossians 3:17 (KJV).