By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The champion is back. But the competition is all new and no doubt hungry to become known as the best cheering section in Michigan.
Let "Battle of the Fans II" begin.
Reigning champion Frankenmuth along with Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard, Buchanan, Vandercook Lake and Zeeland East have been selected as finalists for this year's "Battle of the Fans II," which for the second year aims to recognize the top MHSAA student cheering section.
The contest, organized by MHSAA staff and its 16-member Student Advisory Council, will reward the cheering section that best creates the positive and festive atmosphere made possible when students show enthusiasm, togetherness and sportsmanship while rooting for their team. MHSAA staff and Student Advisory Council members will visit all five finalists for home games during the second half of this regular season, with coverage and video from those visits and the announcement of the winner all to be published on Second Half.
The winner will be announced Feb. 22, and video of all five sections will be played on the Breslin Center HD scoreboard during the Finals in March. The champion also will be recognized during the Boys Semifinals on March 22.
Schools were invited in December to submit a short video, via YouTube, of their cheering sections in action. Video submissions included explanations on how each section met the following contest criteria: positive sportsmanship, student body participation, school spirit, originality of cheers, organization of the group, student section leadership and overall fun. Click the links below to see the finalists' application videos.
A total of 27 sections – including 24 first-time applicants – submitted videos by last week’s deadline. The finalists were chosen by the Student Advisory Council, and the winner will be selected based on the results of a public Facebook poll and another Advisory Council vote.
Finalists will be visited for the following home boys basketball games:
Jan. 18: Frankenmuth vs. Bridgeport
Jan. 31: Buchanan vs. Cassopolis Ross Beatty
Feb. 1: Vandercook Lake vs. Michigan Center
Feb. 5: Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard vs. Madison Heights Bishop Foley
Feb. 8: Zeeland East vs. Muskegon Mona Shores
Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard just missed being included among last year’s finalists, finishing sixth when the Advisory Council chose the 2012 group. Warren Woods-Tower, Beaverton, Schoolcraft, Wyandotte Roosevelt and Rockford placed sixth through 10th, respectively, in this year’s initial balloting.
Other 2013 applicants were Bear Lake, Bridgman, Clarkston, Clio, East Grand Rapids, Hemlock, Kalamazoo Loy Norrix, Muskegon Mona Shores, Grand Rapids Northview, Pinconning, Royal Oak, Sparta, Sterling Heights Stevenson, Saginaw Swan Valley, Traverse City Central, Traverse City West and Warren DeLaSalle. Click to view all applications.
The online Facebook vote will take place Feb. 18-21.
Contest rules plus links to last year’s coverage of the contest can be found on the MHSAA BOTF site.
The Student Advisory Council is made up of eight seniors and eight juniors, who each serve two-year terms. The Council acts as the voice of Michigan's student-athletes; it serves as a student sounding board for the MHSAA's Representative Council, assists in planning Sportsmanship Summits, Captains Clinics and other student leadership events; participates in a yearly focus group about the state of high schools sports for Michigan State University's Institute for the Study of Youth Sports and assists with medal ceremonies at MHSAA championship events.
PHOTO: Five finalists have been selected for the "Battle of the Fans II," clockwise, Frankenmuth, Zeeland East, Vandercook Lake, Buchanan and Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard.