Under the Friday Night Lights

in Features/Sports by

Friday is typically everyone’s favorite day of the week, but the excitement doesn’t fully kick in until the football players line up on the sideline, and the lights illuminate the field at Wesleyan.

From the perspective of junior #11 defensive lineman and tight end Jackson Turner, “getting an opportunity to go out there and have fun with the football game and seeing the rewards of the hard work of the summer pay off” is what excites and fulfills him the most throughout the night.

It may intimidate many people to look up into the stands and see all the people looking down, but Turner said, “The more hype the crowd, the more hype the game… the team really feeds off of the energy of the crowd.” He also adds that the Wolves are his “second family,” and that he has loved “getting to know all the guys and becoming best friends with all of them.” Turner transferred from Mill Creek High School to Wesleyan his sophomore year, and he has been dominating since the day the season began. Despite his ongoing knee injury, Turner is a strong player and a great leader on and off the field. Turner gives this great piece of advice to students that want to get involved in the Friday Night Lights: “Have fun with it… it’s high school. Don’t take things for granted. These are going to be some of the most fun years of your life, and it goes by fast.”

Same goes for senior cheerleading captain, Kensie Pierce, who has been a cheerleader for the Wolves for three years. When asked to describe Friday Night Lights in one word, she quickly responded with the word, “exhilarating.” Pierce adds that her favorite part of the night is “putting up the sign and watching the football players run through.” This moment is truly something magical, and it marks the beginning of what will be an exciting night for the Wolves. As a senior, it is important to mentor and lead the underclassmen.

While Pierce does an impeccable  job of this on the cheerleading team, she also enjoys watching her classmates in the student section cheer on the Wolves up close. She said, “I think it’s very special as a senior to see my classmates stepping up and leading the high school as a whole student body.” Pierce also adds that she likes to be in the middle of the action on Friday Nights. She said, “I like being in between the football players and the students and being able to see their reactions and hear what they’re talking about during the game.” While being in the stands is exciting, Pierce explains that she likes seeing firsthand what the Wolves are up to on the sideline.

Another member of the Wesleyan community that loves standing on the sidelines on Friday Night is cheerleading coach Alex Bufton. As she has many important roles at Wesleyan, Coach Bufton has impacted so many and brought so much to the program throughout her years of coaching cheerleading. Bufton has had a handful of rewarding and enjoyable memories coaching cheerleading, but she says her favorite thing about coaching is “spending time with the girls and getting to know them better outside of school.”

Bufton also adds that her favorite part about standing on the sidelines and seeing all the people above her is, “watching students in the student section cheering on their classmates and rallying together to champion one another.” As a coach, Bufton gets firsthand observation of the wild, excitable student section and notices how special the interactions throughout the night are.

Bufton has been coaching and contributing to the cheer program for many years. When asked what her favorite memory has been throughout all her years of coaching, she said, “I’ll never forget last year when all of our run through signs broke before the football players ran through them… but also watching the girls have such a positive attitude about it.” This is true, almost every run through sign last year hit the ground before the football players could make it through, but the energy and excitement of the night kept everyone positive and upbeat.

Since many people don’t get to be involved in something this special, it is important me to be able to portray the perspective of being behind the scenes of Friday Night Lights. As a cheerleader, looking up into the stands and seeing all the eyes on me and the game is not intimidating but rather very humbling. I know I am being looked upon as a leader.

Anyone can cheer for the football team but being on the sidelines and knowing that they can really hear me cheering for them is something I have always found extremely rewarding. I know I look forward to game day every day of the week, and sometimes this makes time move more slowly. When the week may seem long and the days feel like years, it is important for one to keep their head up and remember that 7:30 p.m. on Friday night is just around the corner.


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