Wesleyan super fans, while fond of Friday night lights, go out of their way to support other athletic and artistic endeavors. Whether it is witnessing the girls’ volleyball team ace Parkview, enduring the sauna-like heat of the natatorium to cheer on the Water Polo Wolves or congratulating cross country runners for a race well run on an early Saturday morning, these people give their all to show athletes the true meaning of community.
Each Friday night, Wesleyan super fans crowd Henderson Stadium to watch another battle between the Wolves and their opponent. One can hear the combined roar of an ecstatic student section and an upbeat marching band from all the way across Technology Parkway, signaling the epic finale of another great game: “Onward Wesleyan … in all we do, for victory we will fight! Wesleyan, we proudly hail that green, gold, white!”
Math Department Chair Annette Smith is a frequent spectator of Wesleyan varsity sports, as she desires to “support her kids and see them in another atmosphere besides the classroom.” Smith believes in the importance of fan support, especially for her students, and hopes that through this support, she will “see the other dimensions of a student, as he or she may excel on the court or field [in a different manner] than inside the classroom.”
Not alone in her efforts, Smith is a part of a large group of faculty members who desire to get to know the student body on multiple levels. While it is easy to learn about a student’s academic character in class, these teachers make it their goal to support their students in their extracurricular efforts and encourage their passions. High school principal Jeff Plunk, on average, attends four to five games a week and is a proud member of the Wesleyan Wolfpack.
Because of his experience working in different positions at the school, Plunk has come to realize that school spirit not only “builds community, [but is often] what people remember most fondly from their high school experience. Not many people can recall the details they learned in a statistics lecture, but they can [happily] recall the details of a girls’ basketball state championship game.”
Student fans thrive in this environment, which entertains fans and encourages athletes. With spirit captains leading cheers, creative dress-up themes and free food provided by the Wolf Trackers, these student fans are able to make the most out of every sporting event.
Senior spirit captains Ellis Schmitt and Grant Beaty love that their extremely loud chants are encouraged in these arenas and feel a sense of empowerment in leading the student body. Schmitt, along with the other spirit captains: Olivia Frye, Sarah Moon, Madison McKemie, Emma Surber, Daniel Salyers, Peter Hess, Caroline Gross and Beaty, is working to inspire students around him to show their school spirit more often. He said, “Because your time here is fleeting, why not experience as much as you can? If you want to experience everything Wesleyan has to offer, go to every sporting event.”
Junior Sophie Parsonnet supports the Wolves not only by cheering them on in the stands, but by volunteering to dress up as Wolfie, Wesleyan’s mascot. “Despite it being 100 degrees [inside the costume],” Sophie would encourage anyone to be Wolfie for the night, as getting “to see the kids’ excited faces and energy when you run up to them” makes it all worth it. Junior Will Parrish is also inspired by “the energy from Wesleyan fans,” and this energy is what motivates him to lead his little-red-wagon cheer each Friday night, as he does it “for the people.”
This fan support, however, is more than just a fun, recreational activity for spectators; the stomping feet, enthusiastic whistles and high-fives go a long a way to help the athletes out. Freshman Mac Howie appreciates every ounce of fan support given at cross country meets, because the cheers from the crowd “give him a boost of encouragement and take his mind off the pain.” Parsonnet agreed with Howie, as she stated that having a good fanbase “motivates her to work harder and to strive to make herself better.”
It is easy to see that through cheers, applause and celebratory hugs, Wesleyan fans share their love for sports and the athletes that take part in them. But the joy found in these sports competitions is two-fold as sports provide an outlet for fans to enjoy themselves and an encouraging atmosphere to push athletes to do their best.
The Wesleyan environment creates such a unique sense of community and truly allows school spirit to thrive. Plunk observes that in all his years of teaching, he “has never seen a student body that enjoys supporting their peers so passionately.” It is no wonder that alumni continually come back for homecoming games or dress up as their high school selves for a variety of collegiate festivities. Wesleyan breeds passionate, supportive students who will proudly hail that green, gold and white for the rest of their lives.