What is home court advantage without student sections and pep bands? Parents, athletes, coaches, referees and scorekeepers remain constant no matter where a game is played, but when it comes to the atmosphere at basketball arenas and creating a home-court advantage, the student sections and pep bands make those venues unique.
I played one sport in high school — football — so when basketball season rolled around I proudly switched to band geek mode and strapped a bass drum to my shoulders. Arena atmosphere has a special place in my heart because for years at Snow Canyon High School I was part of creating that atmosphere.
Did it help the basketball stars perform well on the court? I’d like to think it did. Some athletes get excited about great stadium atmospheres and rabid fans, while others don’t seem to care.
One way or the other, arena atmosphere at basketball games plays an important role, and these were Tooele County’s best student section and pep band at high school basketball games for the 2012-2013 season.
STUDENT SECTION: This category can be broken down into several sub-categories from original chants to costumes to proactive enthusiasm and even down to sustained cheering during a game.
The student sections for Grantsville, Stansbury and Tooele all excelled in different sub-categories, which made it tough to come up with a true winner.
However, the winner of this year’s Best Student Section goes to Stansbury High School. The Stallion students were loud this season, their chants were original and they genuinely love their athletes. The Jan. 31 girls’ basketball contest against Ogden was the most exciting end-of-game environment I’d been a part of this season since I started working here in October.
However, Stallion students should keep this in mind for next year: I don’t feel like you all are fulfilling your potential.
I point back to that girls’ basketball game on Jan. 31 where I saw a poster on my way to the gymnasium that indicated the students would be wearing togas to that game. That’s a bizarre idea for a student section theme, but I was intrigued to see what kinds of shenanigans the Stallion students were up to for that crucial playoff-positioning basketball game.
No one showed up in togas. In fact, the student section itself had just a handful of people show up at the beginning of the game. Slowly, students finally showed up, and it wasn’t until the fourth quarter and overtime that they really started cheering loud. Where was the follow through? Can someone at SHS shoot me an email and explain why the students didn’t follow through on their Greek-themed student section?
In any case, the students made up for it with a resounding and positive performance at the boys’ Senior Night. The atmosphere made the Ben Lomond fans frustrated just enough to make them lose their cools. Seriously, if I had a toilet plunger trophy for the worst fans in Region 11, that award goes to the Ben Lomond fans.
Win or lose, that was the final game of the season for the Stansbury boys, and the student section treated it as such and cheered their hearts out for the seniors who would be graduating.
PEP BAND: Musical talent, entertainment, song choice, and playing loud and fast are the ingredients to win my heart. The 2012-2013 winner for Best Pep Band goes to Tooele High School.
Enthusiastic band members, great song choices for pre-game music and crowd interaction puts the Buffalo band on top. If you have a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell, well, Tooele’s pep band has the cure.
You can count on Tooele to play the classic sporting-event songs and to play them proudly. Oh and by the way, Tooele sounds good too. Those talented musicians make pre-game warm-ups enjoyable to sit through, and you can tell that performing at basketball games isn’t just another thing on their checklist. It seems like they enjoy performing at basketball games.
If the Buffaloes want to repeat as Best Pep Band champions next year, my recommendation is for them to play songs more frequently. There were too many lulls in between songs during pre-game warm-ups. They play the same songs every game so they should have their list ready and keep an up-tempo pace.
Stansbury pep band’s performance pre-tipoff of “Get Ready for This” put them in a close running to get the award, but Tooele just has the overall package in the band section. Add more band members to the pep band and then we’ll talk.
Arena atmosphere is one of my favorite parts of sports, and it’s the student sections and pep bands that make it happen. I went to an NFL game between the Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers in 2009, and I nearly fell asleep because there wasn’t much to keep me entertained. The game was a blowout win for the Panthers, and the fans didn’t do anything to increase the energy level in the stadium.
This is why Utah Jazz games are so fun to attend, or even Utah Grizzlies hockey games. The fans find ways to stay excited. At college games, sitting through timeouts could potentially be a nightmare, but the pep bands are there to entertain fans. Stansbury’s student section made close games seem like the most exciting events of all time, and Tooele’s pep band kept the entertainment going during any break in the action on the court. Continue the entertainment and apply some more creativity for an exciting 2013-2014.