Tribe students need a leader to step up at home games and carry the student section

by: JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - The Scappoose student section, pictured here at a home volleyball game in September, still needs a leader to step up and get the crowd going. For most in attendance at last Friday's boys basketball game against La Salle, the half-hearted cheer from the students midway through the third quarter might have gone unnoticed.

But for the students, it was a big deal.

   The quarter passed with the fans watching one of the top-ranked teams in Class 4A slowly pull away from Scappoose – all without a peep from the Indians' student section. They stood in silence, even as the Falcons shot free-throws a few feet from the edge of the stands where the orange and black squad fidgeted quietly.

By the second quarter, I'd had enough. What's the point, I said via Twitter, of the student section standing if they're gonna be silent? The students responded by pretending to “unfollow” my account, at which I shot back that, instead of taking to Twitter in defiance, how about they put down their phones and cheer?

A few minutes later, after more giggling, somebody finally got their act together and, as Scappoose came down to shoot free throws, the students linked arms and “whoosh'ed” the ball through the net. On the next possession, they feebly chanted “d-fense.”

Throughout the rest of the game, the noise came and went, and though the girls' team would like to think their absence greatly contributed to the calm demeanor of the student section, I think it comes from their lack of a standout leader.

Anybody who went to a volleyball game in St. Helens saw the student section alive and well, chanting sensible things like “go-fight-win,” “bring-the-heat” and my personal favorite, “puppy barks.”

Always loud and energetic, the Lions' section was unquestioningly led by senior Cory West, who would show up to games dressed to match the game's theme, whether it be a throwback basketball jersey, a tie-dye camisole or a pink tutu. He would even tote a broom (and a giant dust mop for Sherwood matches) when the Lions led 2-0 going into the third set, and was the one who called out different chants and led the students in choreographed moves like “the roller coaster.”

This isn't meant to instill the wrath of the Tribe students by saying the Lions do it better, but instead to provide an example of something that works. After the game, several of the Scappoose students publicly cried for a leader to step up, and given the number of students (quiet students, but numbers are numbers) at the games, having an excellent cheering section is possible.

One follower suggested that rules regarding fan conduct might have taken away the fun in cheering at basketball games, but I disagree. The rules from the OSAA basically outlaw the negative, nasty things: they allow cheering, but not jeering.

For example, you can yell your head off during opponents' free throws. You can let loose a throaty cheer when your team is on defense, and “d-fense” is perfectly ok. You can even make signs, as long as they're not negative comments directed toward the other teams.

I have a feeling that I know who will step up at the next game, but it's about more than just showing up and getting into the sporting spirit. Coordinate a white-out. Get on the school's intercom during break and let your classmates know. Heck, you can even get Robert Medley, the athletics director, to help you out. Think up a few cheers to use, and don't be afraid to be the first one yelling during free-throws.

After all, you're already standing, why not make some noise?

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