By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Belding High School’s Redskin Arena was completed during the summer of 2012, a glistening gymnasium with seats the school colors of orange and black reaching from a sunken floor toward the domed rafters overhead.
Tonight, the school hopes to set an attendance record by filling those 2,250 seats – and standing-room capacity of 2,650 – for the first time in the building’s brief history.
Belding hosts Coopersville for boys and then girls varsity basketball games, beginning at 6 p.m. The “Fill the Gym” idea was hatched in part this fall during an MHSAA Sportsmanship Summit, said junior Greta Wilker, also a member of the MHSAA’s Student Advisory Council.
This fall’s Summits focused on crowd participation and featured stories of past Battle of the Fans participants that had helped build large community followings.
“We were trying to think of ways that we could get some of our lower levels involved as well as the community,” Wilker said. “So it originated as a ‘kids night’ where all of the kids from the elementary buildings would get in free.
“But then we decided to go bigger.”
Tonight, all who show at the door wearing a white shirt will get in free. Elementary teams will play at halftime, and the girls 2003 MHSAA Semifinals team and boys 2008 District champ will be honored. Alumni also will join the school's band for its performance.
Fans should have plenty to cheer on during the games well. The boys, after a tough start, have won two of their last four games, and the girls are 9-3 and in second place in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Blue.
“Our hope is that it reconnects the community with our teams by having a cool event,” Wilker said. “And that it gets our younger kids involved and excited about their future athletic careers at Belding.
“I’m really just hoping for a huge, awesome event where students and the community can have fun.”
PHOTO: Belding High School’s gymnasium, which has a standing-room capacity of 2,650. (Photo courtesy of Belding High School.)