By J1 Reporter Maddie Balus
Imagine you are in the state championship and you are making the winning play of the game; a free throw. You imagine screaming and clapping and cheering from the crowd filling the arena as you are preparing to shoot. You turn around and you only hear a few claps from the few parents that could attend.
“A student section can quickly change the outcome of a game. It can motivate players in a completely different way and the student section can also get in the opponent’s heads,” sophomore basketball player Mckenna Stover said. For almost two years, this key aspect to high school sports was nowhere to be found.
During the high school 2020 and 2021 sports seasons, this was a reality for many players. COVID-19 hit the nation hard in March of 2020. Because of this, no spring sports were allowed to compete in a school season. Several months later, fall sports barely competed while working through restrictions, new mask mandates to play, new cleaning conditions, and even slight changes to the competitions to keep people safe. Above all these changes, students were not allowed to come and support their classmates in games and meets.
A strong student section can also make an athlete feel supported. Student-athletes can feel the crowd. “It makes me so happy to see Marian girls come cheer us on because they bring so much spirit and make the game so fun!” senior volleyball player Meg Raabe said.
Along with excitement and enthusiasm, Stover spoke about how much it means to her to have the students witness the team’s hard work, effort and improvement each week. This continuous progress can help drive players to do their best each game and incline students to encourage them to reach this goal. “The team puts a lot of work and time into improving each week and to have students there means something to each and every one of us. Marian girls bring a whole different level of enthusiasm to the games,” Stover said.
With this lack of physical support, it can be difficult for an athlete to keep motivated, and it can be difficult to keep alive such a valued tradition in high school sports. Eventually, limited student sections were allowed. On some game days, students argued over the 40 tickets that were available, and other days it would be hard to have at least 20 students attending. Even on these tough days, the cheerleaders would be there to support and become the student section for the athletes. “Our cheerleaders are absolute rockstars through our games. They do a really good job of staying quiet during our serves and then cheering during the rallies,” Raabe said.
Now with many restrictions lifted, these Marian athletes are hoping that more students come and support their hard work. “I think there will be a lot more girls that will want to come and support us,” junior swimmer Molly VonSeggern said.
Raabe expressed the same hopefulness and predicted that the effort that was made to come to the games during the fall season will trickle into the winter and spring seasons.
Students aren’t the only ones trying to encourage the student body to come to games; the teachers, staff and administration have made efforts as well. With basketball, theme nights have been a wonderful way to have students come and express their creativity. Another motivator to encourage others to come to games have been BOSS (Building Our School Spirit) points. Many of Marian’s home games/meets have been declared as BOSS point events to be earned towards their class. Lastly, administration has added sports announcements to be said during homeroom talking about when and where the games are along with who the teams are competing against. They are said each Monday by the student section mascot.
All of the hard work and dedication to keep this tradition alive has been rewarding for not only the athletes but their classmates as well.