At one Georgia high school, musician-athletes balance football and orchestra

Posted on: October 12, 2016

“The monumental 12,500-seat stadium at McEachern High School in Powder Springs tells the story: This place is a football powerhouse,” writes Bo Emerson in Wednesday’s (10/12) Atlanta Journal-Constitution. At the school, about 20 miles northwest of Atlanta, “A half-dozen of the first-string football players at McEachern are also first-string string players [in the school’s orchestra].… All have played orchestral music since middle school, and all of them balance demanding 12-hour-plus days.… It’s worth it, said Michael Fairbanks, 16, a junior who plays cello and defensive end. ‘You can’t have it all football,’ he said. ‘You have to have the other side to balance it out, so you’re not insane.’ ” The other five musician/athletes include Jeffrey Bryant (viola/defensive end), Dante Fleming (violin/linebacker), Courtney Mills (violin/running back), Justin Powell (violin/running back), and E.J. Scott (cello/wide receiver).… Two years ago, [E.J.] broke his leg during play. He had to sit out the rest of the season, but was back on the cello in a week. [Orchestra Director Jennifer] Floyd says what ran through her mind then, and many times since then, is, perhaps, an ungenerous thought, but one that’s understandable: ‘Oh thank God you didn’t hurt your fingers.’ ”

Posted October 12, 2016

Pictured: Members of Cobb County’s McEachern High School football team also play violin, viola, and cello in the school orchestra. From left: E.J. Scott, Michael Fairbanks, Jeffrey Bryant, Dante Fleming, Justin Powell, and Courtney Mills. Photo by Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution.