Imagine it’s the final play of the game against your crosstown rival. You go to shoot the winning basket, run for the winning touchdown or hit the winning volleyball into the court. In your head, you’re probably imagining the roar of a cheering crowd behind you, supporting you. You can probably see the hundreds of fans ranging from your classmates to your family shouting words of encouragement from the stands. 

Now imagine there were no cheering fans, but rather, an empty bleacher section. Maybe a few parents scattered throughout the arena, but none of your classmates had come to watch. This makes for an entirely different scene in your head. Now, instead of the support you felt in the first scenario, you’re probably feeling down that none of your peers are supplying energy and encouragement. 

Jason (Bear) Ervin, a junior at Lincoln High School who leads the student section as well as plays football and runs track, says, “I think it (the student section) does help bring energy, especially to indoor sports because there’s nothing quite like that big moment and everyone is cheering and rushing the court.” 

Student sections are a vital part of today’s high school sports. They are often the loudest part of the gym or field, offering their support to athletes through cheering. Lots of student sections have organized chants that coordinate with what is happening in the game. Many will yell “he/she’s a freshman” in support of a young player doing well in a varsity match. Some will say “Let’s go __” and then fill in the blank with their school mascot. There are many different cheers and each school has their own unique ones. Each of these cheers are designed to help out their team with energy and encouragement. 

Not only do they add to the support players feel, but they also can be assets to getting into the other team’s heads. Some schools have cheers that attempt to throw off the other team and make them nervous. Chants such as “You can’t do that” when a player makes a mistake or “Back to basics” when a team does something wrong that is usually easy are popular among student sections. These cheers are designed to make the other team not let go of their mistakes and therefore not perform as well. 

Many student sections also have a leader or a couple of leaders. Some schools have designated students from their school to head the student sections. These students are in charge of making the student section a fun place to be and getting students out to support their school’s sports teams. They do this in many ways, including creating dress up themes, starting the chants, promoting the games on social media, and being loud and encouraging others to support the athletes.

Student sections are notorious for having dress up themes such as blackout, neon and tropical. A lot of schools have unique themes as well, each trying to top other schools around them. Dress up themes can be very fun and community building for schools, allowing people to comment on other’s attire and share ideas for how each student will dress. 

Student sections also build school spirit. They encourage students to come to games and root for each other, as well as have fun with their other classmates in the stands. By supporting their fellow school mates, a sense of school spirit is built and spread throughout the school. 

“It (the Student Section) helps bring a lot of people together who maybe aren’t normally together. For example, I’ve had my first ever conversations with some people in the student sections,” says Ervin. “I think the most beneficial thing is the camaraderie and friendships and culture building it does for the school and the kids.”

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A version of this article appeared in the November 29 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Reagan Sturgis is an intern at the Western Wayne News.