The vibrant fan community at South unites students

Grace Palmer, Staff Writer

“It’s really unifying. It’s great to know you’re part of something,” said senior Eva Kough, describing her role in the South High community as a sports fan. Cheering at sporting events has been a really positive part of Kough’s high school experience. For Kough, it’s similar to the Olympics. “Seeing everybody at your school supporting [something] is great,” she said.

Kough started out as a fan at South, like many other students, at the annual Super Soccer Saturday event. “After my games, I would stay for all the [other] games,” she said. Kough also embraced opportunities like spirit week and said, “I really like dressing up.” All her sign making and cheering earned her the senior superlative of “Most School Spirit” this year, along with senior Isaiah Reff.

Junior Bailey Smith, a varsity baseball player who also attends many South sporting events, also had one his most memorable experiences as a fan of South athletics at a soccer game, a boys section final. “It was basically high intensity the whole game and after they won it was pure excitement and joy for everyone who was there,” he described in an email. “If your team wins, that positive energy carries on out of the game and [for] the next few days the whole school has this positive energy,” he said.

“[Being a fan] raises my school spirit and appreciation. When we all came together for a team I felt really united … it breaks all the groups and brings everyone together,” said senior Leona Juergens, a varsity volleyball player who has attended the majority of this season’s baseball games as well as multiple other South games.

Some students don’t want their experience as student fans to end after high school. “I told myself I had to go to a school with at least one good sports team,” Kough said. When she was going through the process of applying to college, sports were a factor that she considered. This contributed to her decision to attend the University of Kansas, a school known for its student campouts for basketball tickets. “They have an amazing basketball team, it definitely went into my decision,” she said.

Kough is one of many students that have made college decisions partially based on the athletic level, not because they want to play, but because they want to watch. For someone choosing a college, the sports or fan culture can be one way to determine whether the atmosphere is one they will enjoy.  Reff said that a school with a lot of fans at sporting events seemed like his environment. “I’m a loud, outgoing guy so if other people are outgoing I feel more comfortable and at home,” explained Reff.

Although he did not initially consider the sports fan culture when deciding where to go to college, Reff said that he is looking forward to being part of Augsburg’s cheering section next year. Starting college is a daunting prospect for many students, and being included as part of a cheering crowd can be a unifying experience.”Freshmen don’t know what to expect … [or] where they’re going to fit in. Being in a big fan section opens a lot of doors … [to] make friendships and [have] a better college experience,” Reff said.

Both Reff and Kough agreed that their own participation in sports had given another way to think about being a fan. “As an athlete, when people cheer it gets me going [and reminds me that it’s] not just about me,” Reff said. Kough also identified her own experience on the softball team as something that motivates her to go cheer for other teams. “It’s fun cheering for your team, and hearing other people cheer,” she said.

“I know as a sports player myself that the more fans we have the better we feel. Each and every fan gives the players positive energy and that extra push to go out there and do their best,” Smith said. He encouraged people to go out and cheer for South’s teams. Juergens agreed. “Whenever people would come to my games it would make me want to do better, so I wanted to do the same,” she said.

Reff also sees cheering at sporting events as a way to contribute to his community. “Being outgoing and cheering brings more fun to teachers and parents. [It] gets more people more involved instead of just sitting in the cold watching a game,” he said about his experience at South games. “[My cheering] gives other kids the opportunity to be outgoing.”

Both at South and in the future, Reff would advise students to get involved and cheer, even if the idea is intimidating to them. “If people get out of their comfort zones, it generally turns out for the best,” he said.

Juergens summarized the effects that being part of South’s cheering section has had on her life by saying, “In the moment when we’re just all together and I look around and see everyone it just makes me feel a lot of love for the school, and the community that we have, and that we can be there to support each other.”