Back to school, back to football
What does "back to school" mean to you? To some, it means lots of homework, aggravating teachers, hanging out with friends or ongoing hours at practice. To the students at Wheatland Union High School, back to school means football season.
I spoke with a lineman on the varsity team, junior Joshua Crawley, 16, about what back to school means to him. "My favorite part about back to school is getting to play football again," he said. "Coming back to school as a junior means getting to play as a varsity player. Varsity games are so much more intense and stimulating because the crowds are much bigger than they would be at a JV game. Playing football is difficult, but ultimately, it's rewarding."
As you can tell, football is a pretty big deal at WUHS. It's the main sport that everyone participates in. Parents, siblings, grandparents and friends of the players all come to show their support for the Pirates. At last week's game against Oroville, a group of Marysville High players came to watch the game, wanting to know what to expect when they play against WUHS.
We are a very spirited school, so regardless of where the games are played, you will always see the Wheatland side of the bleachers decked out in blue. When the games are at home, we have a special bleachers section called the "blue wave," where students get great seats, win prizes and must wear blue.
Last year, we got a couch put on the top row of the bleachers, where the "most enthusiastic" fan of the week could sit. This year, we have new blue caution tape to section off the blue wave area.
Besides the blue wave, there are lots of other things that get WUHS students and families eager to watch the games. Cheerleaders, thunder sticks and foam fingers definitely help trigger enthusiasm in the crowd.
I pulled aside a varsity cheerleader, junior Heather Severson, 16, to ask her how she feels the cheerleaders influence the crowd's attitude during a game. "Everyone in the crowd knows the cheers and they're so catchy, you feel obligated to join in," she said. "The little kids who are maybe too young to know exactly what's going on soon find themselves cheering on our boys and showing support for their future high school. We try and get the crowd as pumped up as the football players are, which really seems to make the night more memorable for players and fans alike. Go big blue!"
This year, our football players are doing the Haka before every game to intimidate the other team. The Haka is a Samoan war dance that symbolizes dominance, seniority and strikes fear in one's opponents.
Because I record stats during the games, I get a better look at the players' mindset while they're up there on the field. Taking stats requires a lot of attention and commitment — but in the end, it's so worth it.
Football is the heart of the whole fall season at Wheatland Union High School. You can only truly understand the commitment, sincerity, dedication and brotherhood the boys put into football by experiencing it.
Natalie Ross is a senior at Wheatland Union High School. Her column appears every six weeks in Education.