BY OWEN HEARNS ‘17
Embarrassment. As I stood on the South side of the Brooklyn Ice Rink amongst a thin group of Saint Ignatius hockey fans, I was overwhelmed with embarrassment. After scanning the rest of the bleachers, I quickly realized that I wasn’t the only one ashamed of the student section’s thin numbers and lack of energy. I noticed that to my left were a small collection of upperclassmen who decided to remove themselves from their peers.
They wanted to separate themselves completely from the Wildcat Platoon that has consistently failed in their missions to cheer on our sports teams. Throughout the game, I snuck periodic looks at the group to my left, tempted to join the protesting students; however, I couldn’t bring myself to leave. I had been a part of the student section for three years and wasn’t prepared to abandon tradition. Looking back on that moment, I should have joined them. The student section needs vital reorganization, and the students should be the people that bring about the necessary changes.
The first issue that needs to be addressed is the composition of the section itself. Students from other schools are beginning to take over the Wildcat Platoon, creating an army of mercenaries. We need to preserve the identity of our student section and boost participation by making the Platoon exclusive to current students of Saint Ignatius High School. Although this may seem like a daunting and impossible task, a strong push from the student body accompanied by the creation of a few rules can conquer the problem.
The first step is to create a specific section for students that is set apart using some form of monitored boundary. Once this is constructed, there needs to be a few entry points to the section that are supervised by the adult moderators of the Wildcat Platoon. With these provisions, A student will need to show an adult moderator their Wildcard in order to enter the section. This will ensure that the Platoon consists of Wildcats, which will increase passion and reduce distractions.
The next problem that has to be confronted is the quality of the leaders of the student section. Although Adam Shibley and Martin Fanta, who are players on the football team, are expected to increase the quality of the generals, the Wildcat Platoon has been poorly led by members of the senior class. The first part of the process in dealing with this is having the leaders use a megaphone. Students within the section are having trouble listening to the chants being started by the leaders. This causes a delay amongst the members of the Platoon because students have to wait until enough people are chanting in order to hear the cheer. With a megaphone, the leaders can amplify their voices to cut through the com- motion of the sporting event, so the students can join in immediately.
Another crucial improvement to the section is to have the leaders chant slower. If the generals slow down the cadence, the cheers will last much longer, making them more imposing and unnerving.
When I was an underclassman, I thought that the student sections were largely insignificant. I usually focused more on “wheeling” rather than cheering and couldn’t grasp the idea that support from fans could make a difference in a game.
After becoming a member of the varsity football team, I understand how important a passionate fan base is. When you’re the one playing, you can feel a sense of community. Because I am someone who’s experienced this feeling, I know how important it is that we preserve it. I will do whatever I can to prevent it from disappearing, and I hope you will too.