Student Section Shows Spirit and Support

An Inside Look Into the Stands of Fans
GRINNING FROM EAR TO EAR | The LASA Velocity Dance team is all smiles as the student section celebrates a win.
GRINNING FROM EAR TO EAR | The LASA Velocity Dance team is all smiles as the student section celebrates a win.
Deven Sharma

High school football culture is practically mythologized in American high school movies such as “High School Musical”, “Mean Girls”, and “The Breakfast Club”, according to interviewees. At LASA, the student section aims to bring energy and excitement to sports games by chanting and cheering to replicate these feelings and turn these fictional ideals into realities.

Freshman Kavya Gupta is well aware of the hold traditional American ideas about high school sports culture has over the collective unconscious. According to Gupta, many elementary and middle school students wait for years to be a part of the high school experience to understand first-hand what they have seen in movies and television shows.

“It’s definitely a hallmark and something that every single American dreams of when they’re at a high school football game,” Gupta said. “It’s everywhere: it’s in movies, it’s in TV shows… It’s very widespread and it’s very large compared to middle school football games.”

Anya Ruttala is one of the LASA student section leaders who are responsible for creating and leading the chants, as well as coordinating other events such as pep rallies. According to Ruttala, the hype the student section brings to the experience is unmatched.

“My first game with a big student section was last year with our friends as student section leaders,” said Ruttala. “It was really fun, [student section leaders] get really hyped and so we all join them and they start chants. It kind of feels like you’re in a high school movie.”

BYOB (BRING YOUR OWN BLEACHERS) | Fans use lawn chairs to create makeshift bleachers for the first football game of the season. The game was played against St. Andrews Episcopal School. (Deven Sharma)

Senior Lyssa Lashus is an active member of LASA’s athletic community that is on the varsity basketball, volleyball, lacrosse, and track teams. According to Lashus, the LASA student section has improved throughout the past four years, and its section leaders have revolutionized LASA sports culture by publicizing LASA games much more over the past years.

“The first year I was a freshman, we didn’t have anyone show up to football games,” Lashus said. “Sophomore year, it was a little better: people went to the homecoming game, still not much turnout. My junior year, we started picking it up. But, our football culture hasn’t been very strong until this year, and I think that has a lot to do with the student section just trying to publicize it a lot.”

According to Ruttala, LASA football coach Derrick Lewis has been the driving force behind the football program’s serious improvements, as well as his encouragement of an energetic student section, according to Ruttala.

“I think he’s been working really hard to build up the sports program in general,” said Ruttala. “He wants media, he wants a great student section, he wants everything and he’s made the football team better. Also, for us to be cheering on a team that’s actually winning games is pretty helpful.”

LASA also has some of its own homecoming traditions that promote school spirit, such as the gallon challenge. Though the challenge is considered disgusting by Lashus, it is fun to watch and participate in, which helps to build a sense of community among LASA students.

“Basically, everyone goes to the parking lot and everyone brings either a gallon or half gallon of milk and your goal is to chug the whole thing,” Lashus said. “There’s no time limit, you just have to drink the whole thing and not puke, and your best friend in the whole wide world has to hold a trash bag for you to puke in right next to you because you can’t do that and not puke. It’s disgusting, it smells so bad, it gets all over the pavement. It’s disgusting, but [it’s] tradition.”

Apart from the gallon challenge, LASA students also like to participate in the homecoming week outfit themes. The tradition takes place during the school week immediately preceding homecoming and is where students dress according to certain themes to show school spirit.

“There’s also homecoming week where there are different themes every day,” Lashus said. “For example there’ll be like twin day, 70’s day, just dress up, etc.”

TIME FOR TEMPO | The LASA Raptor Band drumline performs on the sidelines of the field to energize the student section. (Deven Sharma)

Pep rallies are also a significant part of LASA’s football, sports, and general culture, according to Lashus. The fun, community-building activities are what many students look forward to throughout the school year. 

“Then, of course, we have pep rallies,” Lashus said. “We only have two or three a year, but they’re about an hour long at the end of the day and you can have student-teacher games. We had a water balloon fight last year, there’s a tug of war every year, the cheerleaders will do a dance, the dance team will do a dance, [and] last year they actually had the basketball team do stunts for the cheerleaders. We did a fantastic job.”

While, according to interviewees, sports have historically not been LASA’s specialty, our section leaders, football coach, and long-standing student traditions are huge contributors to the impressive recent turnaround in LASA athletic performances.

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