Cheer up and be creative my young teenage friends

Cheer up and be creative my young teenage friends

I need more from my student cheering sections.

That is an official challenge.

The gauntlet has been thrown, and now I am challenging student sections everywhere to up their game.

For far too long, student sections have been using the same old tired chants and cheers that every other school in or outside of this universe probably uses.

You may recognize the main culprit. It’s the one that boringly goes “You can’t do that” and gets repeated close to 743 times per game.

It’s annoyingly repetitive, boring and lacks any type of inventiveness.

I expect more from my creative teenagers bent on poking fun at opposing teams when they dribble a ball off their leg, run over a defender or commit an infraction.

It’s time to up the ante, don’t you think?

Of course, I lived in an era when we had probably the greatest teen hammer of all time, Bruce Byler, who would walk to the lower deck when games decidedly went Hiland’s way and cranked out the chant that all of the students got behind. Yeah, although Hiland fans have long been fairly dulcet because of their Mennonite upbringing, there were more than a handful of them who secretly, under their breath, were chanting along in response to Byler’s boisterous “Is that not a scoreboard” chant.

It was odd that Byler became somewhat of a local legend with his chant, and to this day there are probably people who walk into Dutch Cupboard and toss out that fond memory.

Of course, in today’s world, that chant and many others would never be tolerated because it might offend someone.

Yes, that’s right, political correctness has taken all of the fun out of teenage cheering sections.

Thus, it’s time for our high school leaders to step up and deliver some inventive yet somehow wholesome cheers that belittle an opponent but in a soothing, polite way.

I recall back in the mid-2010s when Hiland played River in a district title game. The two student sections at catacorner from one another and late in a somewhat close game began a spirited game of one-upmanship, trading cheering punches like two heavyweights bent on getting the better of their opponent.

It was simultaneously both hilarious and cutting, and the two sides went at it hard for an entire timeout before both sides erupted in fanatic cheering, feeling they had won the contest.

For a hot minute, it kind of felt like the basketball game was secondary to what was taking place in the stands.

Oddly enough, Hiland would go on to win the game, and when they played in the district final, a massive group of River kids showed up for the game, sat with the Hiland student section and cheered their hearts out for a Hiland team that had just sent their team packing for the year.

Another year the Hiland Lady Hawks were playing a district game against a team I can’t quite put my finger on. It might have been Danville, but the team was nicknamed the Blue Devils.

In a seriously tight game through three quarters, the Blue Devils fans were raucously chanting “Let’s go Devils” over and over until their enormous fan base burst into wild applause and cheering.

That was when I witnessed what the power of an inventive teen with a quick wit can do for the high school cheering scene.

Following that display, one of the McKey boys, I think it might have been Brett, calmly walked to the front of the Hiland student body section. Like a professional conductor, he motioned for silence, then flicked his hands up quickly to invite the entire student body to stand.

The conductor started the song “Jesus Loves Me” as the whole student body sang as one. It was as though they were battling the forces of evil. The gym was eerily silent as they belted out the song. It was almost as though nobody could figure out what should take place next, and out of reverence they remained silent.

Upon completion, the Hiland faithful responded with a united roar.

That, my friends, is what cheers should bring to the table.

Then there was the time I attended a Lake game to see my friend Mark Sommers’ younger brother play. Mark’s brother was a player, as was Mark, but it wasn’t anything in the game’s action that has remained with me for decades.

In the second half, the ball rolled out of bounds to where the Lake student section sat. Of course, the seniors were in the front row, and the very first student picked up the ball and held it out to the official. The official reached for the ball, and at the last second, the student passed the ball to the student next to him. Before the official had time to blow his whistle, the ball went cascading down the front row, passing through about 18 pairs of hands.

The official tried to keep pace, following the ball like a puppy for about the first six or seven students before giving up. He stood up, threw out his hands and began laughing hysterically as the entire gymnasium was filled with laughter.

Once again, student cheering section ingenuity had struck, making a big impression without disturbing the game.

It is moments like these that need to arise from student sections, not the rote “DUH-duh-DUH-duh” chant that is old and tired.

Let’s go student sections. The ball is in your court.

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