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Students will flock to high school football games all over the area this fall, doing their best to help their peers to victory. Here are a few attributes common to many of the area’s best student sections:
At some schools, students present a united front during games, dressing as law enforcement figures, beach-goers or superheroes, for example.
Thematic decisions are often an exercise in crowdsourcing.
“It starts Monday with chats on Facebook, and people suggest themes. We’d have it finalized by mid-week, then by Friday, [decide] where to go after school to get our clothes,” said Adam Cloe, a 2014 Carmel graduate.
Cloe said his game-day shopping sprees often consisted of purchasing clothes as well as food.
“Pre-game, we grill out with the parents in the parking lot,” Cloe said.
The best student sections often create their own cheers or repurpose riffs from pop culture.
Joan McDonald, Notre Dame’s faculty cheer supervisor, remembered one year when Michael Jordan’s attendance at a game led one fan to start singing R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly.” The song was featured in the “Space Jam” movie that starred Jordan.
“Then the kids started yelling, ‘I believe that we can win!’ Just jumping up and down, screaming,” McDonald said. “It was cool.”
Carmel’s student section has employed the opening of the children’s cartoon “Spongebob Squarepants” at the start of games.
Students yell, “Are you ready kids?” Then they’d scream “Ohhh!” as the ball was kicked off.
A great student section can influence the action by generating a lot of noise.
Last season, a rebuilding Buffalo Grove football program established a new, boisterous student section dubbed Grove Street. It seemed to make a difference right away: The Bison beat Leyden 28-14 in Week 1 to match their win total from all of 2012.
“It’s always nice in good times and bad times to be able to feed off the fans and all the people who want to be there and are supporting us,” then-senior Andrew Apel said after the game. “It’s good for us, as a collective unit, to be able to feed off that. We bring that energy down onto the field, and we try to represent them well.”
Other attributes of the best student sections include using chants and visuals to uplift rather than demean and showing up in force at road games.
Lyons prides itself on sending a large contingent to road games for football as well as volleyball and soccer. There is such interest in the schools’ teams that two Twitter accounts with colorful handles — @LTWeirdos (598 followers) and @LTHooligans (144 followers) — exist to send out updates and spread pro-Lions propaganda.