Varsity boys football and lacrosse teams’ winning seasons arouse school spirit

Callie Hawkins

With successful sports teams, comes more fans. With boys varsity football and lacrosse teams excelling in their season this school year, fans are excited and have an even bigger incentive to attend sports games to support their teams and embrace the community. 

But the teams and their crowds have distinctive differences. 

“For the big games, the energy is the same, if not bigger for lacrosse,” varsity lacrosse and football player Blair Brennan said. “However, on a regular basis football crowds show up in greater numbers. It is definitely easier when you have a set game every Friday instead of random games spread out throughout the week.”

In the fall, varsity football went their entire regular season undefeated and advanced to the Southwest Preparatory Conference 4A Championship for the first time in school history. Although they suffered a loss to Kinkaid on Nov. 6, reaching the championship was a victory in itself. Boys varsity lacrosse went into the SPC 4A tournament as the second seed. They advanced to the championship against St. Mark’s, who they had lost to previously in the season on Apr. 14, and with revenge on their mind, they beat them 14-5. This past weekend they traveled to Austin for the Texas High School Lacrosse League state championship again as the second seed. They took victory in the semi-finals over Westlake High School and finished second having suffered a tough loss to Jesuit Dallas 11-10 in the championship game. 

Brennan, who has been on varsity football for two years and varsity lacrosse for three,has experienced the crowd for each sport from the fields.  And even though he likes cheering on his school in any way possible, he finds it hard to sit and watch rather than go out and play.

 “When I play sports, I feel better than I would watching others,” Brennan said. “There is a sense of pride that comes along with being on the field.”

Fans play a huge role in how the teams perform. Some might find it distracting while others find it exciting.

“Without fans, the games would be a lot less energetic and the motivation for players would be lackluster,” senior varsity football player Taylor Elliott said. “Personally [I think], the fans get the adrenaline going, and it’s nice to know you are supported by people outside of the team.”

Weather plays an important role as well. The fall football season, with dark nights and cool weather, is much different than the early summer, hot games of the lacrosse seasons.

“I’d say that the attendance is pretty similar which is rare when you’re comparing football and lacrosse in Texas,” senior varsity lacrosse player Jackson Singer. “Very few schools will have similar turnout for both teams. Looking from the stands, I never really realized it, but when you’re playing you can definitely tell how big the student section is.” 

But one of the most obvious and major differences between the two seasons is the absence of cheerleaders on the sidelines at lacrosse games. Cheerleaders are a staple of high school football, but if they were present at lacrosse games, the atmosphere would  probably be different.

To sophomore and cheerleader Caroline Bagley, it is a different experience screaming from the stands than cheering from the side.

“I love being close to the team during football games, and I really enjoy seeing the crowd get excited when we win,” Bagley said. “Being able to experience games both from the sidelines on cheer and in the stands this year has been amazing. Even though football sometimes has more hype around games, I love watching lacrosse games from the stands.” 

And having cheerleaders on the sideline makes a difference to the players as well.

“It makes a difference because cheerleaders help spark motivation,” Brennan said. “They keep the fans entertained and the players encouraged.”

            Another physical difference between the two seasons this year was the switching of the home and visitor sections. Before the varsity lacrosse game against Highland Park on March 10, the coaches suggested for the home section to be moved from the north section of the bleachers to the south section. Since the team runs onto the field from the varsity boys locker room and has their bench on the south end of the field, they wanted their crowd to mirror their bench. This switch proved to be beneficial after the Highland Park game, as the varsity boys took the victory over one of their biggest rivals. They moved the home section for boys lacrosse games to the south end for the rest of the season. 

The late practices and major commitment for the boys lacrosse team proved advantageous in their season and showed in their success. After the semifinal win at the THSLL tournament, student fans wanted to cheer on the team at the championship. Many seniors, along with a few fans from other grades, got together and made the trip down to Austin last weekend

“It was a lot of fun to be able to go down to Austin with so many of my friends to watch the state championship,” senior fan Sloane Hope said. “Not only did we get to hang out and enjoy our last couple of weeks together, but we got to come together and cheer for our team one last time. Of course it’s sad they didn’t win, but the experience overall was very memorable.”

This enthusiasm represents the magnitude of growth of energy in the community because of the Horde’s (the name given to the students’ section in sports games) persistence and successes of the teams themselves.

“I have never felt more unified as I do when I am a part of the crowd at football and lacrosse games,” junior and Horde Board representative Ella Sjogren said. “The Horde is there to celebrate and support our athletes and teams. There may be some technical differences, but really [there] is no difference between the football or lacrosse season because we are all there for the same reason, to cheer on ESD.”

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