It's double overtime and your legs are exhausted. The score is tied with 10 seconds left. Your team needs that key play to win the game. It’s do-or-die, and all the while there are fans screaming so loud your ears are ringing.
I don’t know about you, but most athletes get a much-needed boost in adrenaline when they hear this. I know I have.
Crowd noise plays a huge factor in deciding the outcome of the game. It doesn’t necessarily have to be that “double-overtime buzzer-beater” moment. Steady cheering throughout the game can help a team gain momentum and push through while the other team is near exhaustion.
Once in a while, when I’m playing, I’ll glance up at the crowd. Just to see the excitement on their faces gives me the extra drive. They are there to watch you. YOU are the showcase, the main event, the entertainment.
The MHSAA Student Advisory Council has been featuring the best student sections in the state with our “Battle of the Fans” contest. The fan bases for some of the schools in Michigan is incredible. They all have one goal – help their team to victory.
I attend Rudyard High School in the Upper Peninsula. I come from a small area, and the population is much smaller than many communities down-state. Life is a little slower up here, but the townspeople all have one thing we can do to get away from everyday stress – go to the big game.
Whether it be Friday night football, or District Finals in basketball, you can expect to see Main Street empty and the school parking lot full of cars.
One game I will always remember for lots of fans and noise was our basketball Quarterfinal in 2010. I was a sophomore, brought up to varsity toward the end of the regular season. I had gotten more playing time in the playoffs and got to play some solid minutes in the Quarterfinal. We ended up losing the game, but the atmosphere was exhilarating. To step on the court, and look up and witness 3,000 fans going absolutely nuts gave me an experience I will never forget. Keep in mind, Rudyard’s population is a whopping 500 people.
For me, there are those certain fans for whom you always want to perform well. I am always working hard to impress my grandparents. They live more than 100 miles away and still manage to attend a good portion of my games. They always have been supportive, and I always try my best to win for them and for my team.
Then there are the young ones who look up to you. Just this year, my basketball coaches started a youth basketball camp, and every Saturday we open the gym and kids as young as 3-years-old get their chance to be like us. They bounce the ball with the biggest smiles on their faces, and we know that they are always watching us on and off the court – and always learning from us.
I once had a young boy ask me, “Can you slam dunk it during a game for me this year?” He had been attending camp every Saturday and watched some of our practices. Just knowing how much of an influence we have on the youth of our town makes me want to be even better, and work even harder.
Young or old, sold-out house or not, fans always will be essential in supplying the home team advantage and deciding the outcome of the game. And they’ve left me with more sports-related memories than just those made on the court.
Tyler Wilson, Rudyard senior
- Sports: Football, basketball, baseball
Non-sports activities: Student Council, band, drama, National Honor Society
Favorite class: AP government
Must-see TV: "Pardon The Interruption"
One shining moment: When we made the football playoffs this year after starting the season 2-3.
What's next: I plan on attending college and playing a sport. I’m not exactly sure where, but I have been narrowing it down. I plan on studying pre-med.
- My favorite part of game day is: ... spending time with teammates. Sometimes we will have a team breakfast on game day. We’ll get together during lunch at school, etc. Just the feeling you get when you walk around the halls wearing a jersey or being dressed up.
PHOTO courtesy of Tyler Wilson.