Behind the Support From the Stands

Remy Merrill

Your heart pounds in your chest. Thud. Thud. Thud. Everything that you’ve worked for comes down to this moment. Your heart might flop out onto the court.  “Welcome Mount Vernon High School!” The announcer exclaims as the crowd begins to bark. Your eyes track down the source of the sound like a light in the dark. You look up, and smile. You gape at, what looks like hundreds, of students straining their vocal cords and applauding with exhilaration. There they are. The fans. The groupies that make the game. 

Mount Vernon High School has always taken pride in athletics. Bleeding with skill and determination, high school athletes are no joke. On and off season, athletes eat, sleep, and breathe their sport. “The commitment level is insane,” Parker Whitham, a sophomore varsity volleyball player, said. High school varsity sports take extreme dedication, time, and passion.

An athlete’s hard work doesn’t go unnoticed. With pep rallies in the fall, scholarship opportunities, Senior Night traditions, and local news highlights. High school athletes are in the spotlight for their hard work and accomplishments. But sports are just a game without the fans in the audience. There’s nothing to compete for without support from the stands. Players and fans both contribute to the creation of an environment of competitive excitement. 

Mustang fans make a point to be in the stands, dressed in themed attire,  supporting our teams no matter what. In past years an early release has even been implemented at Mount Vernon to allow for students to go to the state volleyball, basketball, and football games!  For several years, high school students have created a strong tradition of dressing alike in the stands.. Whether it’s a white-out or a beach theme, MV students go all out. “This year at one of the volleyball games Leo Appleton, Jake Coon and Kayden Pendergrass wore white leggings, white headbands, and white shoes.” Henry Ryan, a four sport sophomore athlete, said. 

A survey was sent out to Mount Vernon High School students in October to vote for their favorite dress-up theme. The top three favorites this year are beach/tourist, country, and black-out. The attire needed to dress for the tourist theme is floral Hawaiian shirts, bucket hats, and sunglasses. Kasia Wiebel, a junior, voted for tourist as her favorite theme, saying “It’s always so much fun and I feel like everyone goes all out.” The tourist theme is a favorite among many and was even chosen for the Volleyball State Championship two years in a row. 

The country theme is usually interpreted as cowboy hats, boots, and flannels. Lilly Krob, a sophomore, voted for country as her favorite theme. “I tried on my dad’s boots before a football game and felt like a real cowboy at the game,” Krob said. The other theme in the top three, the black-out theme is a classic because unlike the other themes where some students don’t dress up, everyone is completely uniformed in black. 

High school can be pretty tough and tensions and ill feelings can arise between students, but being part of the student section can unify the students toward a common goal: supporting their classmates. Mumbled bouncy cheers, the clapping applause, and mild choreography is all part of the thrilling student section. Sporting events outside of school give students the opportunity to dress up and have fun. “I think it’s a fun way to embrace school spirit and to bring the students together for the game,” junior Isabelle Krob said. 

 The positive encouragement oozing from the student section plays a big role in a team’s performance. Tyler Panos, a four sport sophomore athlete says that looking into a crowd of cheering fans from the field is, “one of the many things that makes football season special to me.” 

High school sports are taken very seriously, and Mount Vernon students play like their lives depend on it. The Mount Vernon Volleyball team were the returning state champions this year, so of course the student section was overflowing. Head Volleyball Coach Maggie Willems said, “When they first let the fans into the arena, we had some students come running in to get in the front row. It was so fun to see their enthusiasm and excitement for the game.”

A close game can get pretty intense and the extreme stiff energy on the court needs something to balance the tension of competition. That’s where the fans in the stands come in. The student section is the positive booming force that drives players to grit their teeth and give it their all. “It’s really important in volleyball specifically because the game is so back and forth, and the student section really helps us get momentum,” Whitham said. 

The fans’ support is more than just to win the game, it’s deeper than that. One of the pros of being a small school is we all know each other. We all know how much work and passion go into the game. The emotion and value behind sports is very clear to everyone so we’re there for it. We show up for each other. Yeah, it’s fun to dress up and cheer but we don’t go for that. We go for the players, win or lose. The high school has a tradition of ‘super fans’. Students can order super fan T-shirts with a player’s name on the back. 

You’ll find sophomore Finley McVay, wearing a football superfan shirt with the name (Tyler) Panos on the back. “To be a super fan means to me that the person you are representing means a lot to you. When you wear the shirt you’re not only representing who they are but who you are as well. It also shows that no matter what happens during the game, whatever the sport is. That I will be proud of him and proud of what he was able to accomplish, and I want people to see that,” McVay said. 

It’s clear to Mount Vernon and the surrounding communities that we take pride in the time and work spent in athletics and the accomplishments the teams have made. But something that is also eligible for an applause is the supporters. The people devote their time and energy to be there at the game for the players. Yeah, high school is not all about sports, but maybe young adults supporting each other isn’t so bad. A competitive event that tricks us into coming together.