By CHRIS LARSEN ‘18
I love Ignatius. I always have. I can remember coming to the open house with my brother when I was in 6th grade, already making mental blueprints to myself about what I would do when I got here. Needless to say, almost everything I held near and dear to myself as an 11-year old has changed. Almost.
The thing I have wanted to do since I first was introduced to Saint Ignatius High School 7 years ago was lead the student section. I know, I know, it sounds frivolous to have that be my yearning for years and years, but hear me out. In what other context in life can you scream at the top of your lungs in a crowded area and have nobody look at you oddly? How many places on this Earth are you not only allowed, but encouraged to dress like a buffoon or put colored paint on your body or spend hours standing in cold, metal bleachers with nothing on but short shorts?
This is what fascinates me about the student section. It is a place where all animosities are put aside, and you can truly enjoy being a high school student for a change. Sometimes we get caught up in all the testing, reading, problem solving, and essay writing that we forget that our goal is not just to go to college, but to grow as human beings and as people. There is no better way, in my eyes, to truly judge the state of the camaraderie of students in a school than by looking at their student section. The louder they are, the more the students trust and enjoy each other. The quieter they are, the more reserved and distant the students feel among classmates. That is why the state of our student section pains me so.
When I went to the 2011 State Championship game, I could not stop looking over at the sea of Ignatius kids screaming and yelling as loud as they could for as long as they could, no doubt spurring their teammates to a State Title. Flash forward to this past year’s state championship game, where the section of parents half the size of the students were twice as loud, not to mention being absolutely blown out of the water by St. X’s student section. Some of our own leaders could not even sacrifice one moment of being cool to give their brothers that one final push to a state title. I hoped this would change this year, and it did.
For about one game.
But now, after the leaders, most of the seniors, and about another row or two of students, all I see are kids milling around trying to find the next girl to “wheel” while their brothers are pouring their hearts out into the game they love, for the school they love. I understand that, for an underclassman who might not have the social opportunities upperclassmen have, a football game is a good way to interact with the opposite sex. But I implore you to take a look at the kids at the very front. Not only do they cheer until their voices are long gone, but they enjoy doing it. Socializing is great, but in the right context.
As someone who has played in games that have had anywhere from 20 to 1,000 people, believe me when I say that a loud crowd makes a massive difference. The chills down your spine when you hear the crowd roar after a score, the adrenaline boost when you hear someone scream your name from the stands, and the shift in mindset you get when you remember that hundreds of people paid to watch you play something you have been practicing for years, are things that drive people to the ends of the Earth trying to capture once that moment is over.
I don’t know what the disconnect is between these students and their brothers on the field, but all I can do is say one thing: you are not too cool to cheer. Nobody is. Senior or freshman, tall or short, skinny or chunky, nobody is too cool. And if you think you are, the exit is right over there.
Allow me to hop off my soapbox for a minute and bring this rambling, spitball of musings to a close. I am not one to be upset easily. I pride myself on being an easygoing guy who is calm and respectful in any situation. But when I see my friends get up at 6:00 A.M. for months in the summer to workout, followed by months of two-a-days, and hours of gameday preparations, hours that could be spent studying, traveling, or just being a kid, it infuriates me to no end to see kids with their backs turned chatting up some girl a row behind them.
Bring back the Ignatius I know. Bring back the Ignatius I love. We as a student body are better than this. I can do little more than set an example and hope you follow; it is up to you what type of student section, and school, we are. One of camaraderie, fellowship, and honor? Or one of complacency, separation, and disparagement?