OPINION: Student section leaders ignite increased pride, attendence

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Senior Ben Blanchard leads the student section during a Friday night football game (Photo by Scott Olmstead Photography)

Andrew Hoben

BY ANDY HOBEN (’20)

During the 2018 fall sports season, the Granville student section has been particularly involved. On Friday night for the football games, both home and away, students of all ages pack the section, while student section attendance is also up for sports such as volleyball, soccer, and more. Additionally, for nearly every football game and even some of the other sporting events, there has been parent and school-sponsored tailgates run by some very dedicated students.

Two individuals in particular have taken the reins when it comes to leading the student section. Senior Ben Blanchard and junior Ben Penn can in large part be thanked for this increase in interest in school sporting events, and their fervor in getting people, from parents to school leaders, involved is truly admirable.

As anyone who has ever played or watched competitive sports knows, having home field advantage is key to gaining and keeping momentum in the pursuit of victory. Student sections are a huge part of this, as they add constant cheering for the home team and heckle the opposing team; the louder they are, the more effective they are. Conversely, a bad student section is an eyesore to everyone in the stadium, and a lack of attendance can bring down the morale of everyone involved in the game. This problem has certainly not been apparent in the Granville student section this year.

“I can hear the student section more, they are way more into the game,” says football player Dom Varrasso.

“It feels pretty electric in there,” adds fellow football player Anthony Zeno. “They do a good job getting a lot of people to come out. The roar of the crowd gets me going, and energizes the team.”

“I think they’ve really showed out, hats off to Ben and Ben for being the ringleaders of that rowdy student section. They are really the heart and soul of it,” varsity placeholder Mitch Kunar said.

This positive sentiment was common throughout the people that I interviewed. Additionally, many people attributed the success of the student section to Ben and Ben. It is no secret that these two have been the leading forces in increasing attendance and making the game day experience something truly special for all involved. However, to understand how their tactics have been so effective, one has to know Ben and Ben.

Ben Blanchard is a senior basketball player, and was anointed leader of the student section for the 2018 football season, made official by him being given the keys to the Granville Student Section Twitter account. Ben Penn is a junior basketball player and an extremely skilled and dedicated gatherer of people. Together, with Blanchard handling the student section, and Penn orchestrating the pre and post game tailgates, gameday activities have reached a popularity seldom seen in a town where academic achievement is usually paramount. These two, who have gained a rep with each other as teammates in basketball and friends off the court, have taken steps in the right direction to improve the atmosphere in the stands.

According to USA Today, the four main components of a great student section are showing school pride, the bigger the better, theme nights, and, most of all, represent your school well. Under the leadership of Ben and Ben, all of these components have been improved on.

When it comes to showing school pride, the progress this year is undeniable. Whether it be the in increase attendance for away games, loud chants that get everyone in the stadium going, or an overall heightened involvement in the spectating of all activities and sports, not just football, Ben and Ben have noticeably raised the level of pride that students feel towards being a Blue Ace.

The attendance for the student section has increased under the leadership of the two Bens, as the portion of the stands that once was only about half filled with students and partially taken by parents is now pushing to be a full section just for students based on the number of kids who come out to the football games. Also, a large student section now follows the football team to away games and even some away volleyball games, a testament to the support being fostered for these programs this year.

And, when it comes to theme nights and representing the school well, each have been very apparent this year, as the student section leaders have chosen appropriate and rallying themes that show school spirit without being disrespectful towards the opponents, and these themes enhance the gameday experience not only for the fans but for the players on the field that sense a unified presence cheering them on.

No matter how you spin it, one thing is for certain; the Granville High School student section and other game day festivities have grown thanks to the leadership of Ben and Ben, and continue to grow stronger as the fall sports season goes on.