By: Sarah Danley
All eyes are on the class of 2022 this year with the remarkable revival of GS’ student section to Fall and Winter sports. In the past few years, Golden Lion athletes did not have the support of grand student sections like they have had this year.
“Because of COVID, everyone missed out on going to games last year,” senior Roni Kaufman said. “Everyone wanted to have the real high school experience of watching games and supporting our teams.”
Missing out on the high school experience because of the COVID-19 pandemic, GS students made up for the loss of time by showing their support exponentially this year.
“Last year, no students were allowed in the section,” Athletic Director Mr. Frank Sundry said. “I expected a large number for the section this year, so I’m not surprised. I’m very happy with the turnout of students.”
Although the absence of students last year intrigued many to support GS teams this year, several other factors enticed students to support our teams. Both Kaufman and senior Trevor Swartz cited social media as a major reason students came out to support athletics.
“Social media made a big difference with the outcome,” Swartz said. “We created polls on Instagram to give people choices on things like themes.”
Themes spanning from white outs to jersey nights gauged interest from students when attending games in the fall and winter.
“I think themes are always fun,” Mr. Sundry said. “They bring a little of a costume feel that people want to be a part of.”
The use of social media also allowed section leaders, including Mazzy Baxter, Charles Johnson, Roni Kaufman, Caelin Langton, Dylan Sarsfield and Trevor Swartz to post photos with Golden Lion athletes photoshopped onto them. These posts, along with similar posts from competing schools’ student sections, drew attention to upcoming games.
“Starting beef in the comments got people to come out,” Swartz said. “We had 300 comments on one post, and I had to delete them all.”
Although Instagram and Twitter helped immensely, senior leaders being involved in GS sports themselves also helped to set up details such as themes and game times.
“Being involved in sports really helped,” Kaufman said. “We got inside access to what was going on with games and themes that the team wanted, really just being able to text the psycho group chat about information.”
But being a section leader is not always about fun and games. Each psycho had the responsibilities of getting supplies for games, spreading news on both social media and inside the school and coming up with themes.
“From past years, I knew what kind of responsibilities being a section leader came with,” Kaufman said. “I wanted our leaders to be responsible and people that would show up to the events.”
With all the responsibilities the Salem Psychos had, they created a memorable student section, not only for the players they supported, but for the GS community as well.
“Last year, we had the COVID year when everything was shut down,” Sundry said. “Now, we see some semblance of normality and the athletics bring the community and the school back together.”
The presence of student sections at sporting events provided energy and support to GS athletes during the fall and winter sports seasons. Many people in the GS community were impressed by the Psychos’ ability to draw people toward these events.
“The class of 2022 is great across the board,” Sundry said. “From what I saw, the majority of the section were seniors leading it. The energy in the section definitely contributed to the atmosphere in all sports.”
Coaches and staff alike hope to see this student section trend continue after the class of 2022 graduates in a few short months. With all eyes on this year’s seniors, the junior class of 2023 has a great example to look up to next year.
“The size of next year’s student section all depends on junior leadership as they rise to the senior class,” Sundry said. “It all depends on if they continue with the social media presence and if they want to have that same atmosphere. I hope it continues.”
In past years, the student section’s presence at fall and winter sports was not even close to what they proved to be with the current Salem Psychos. The influences of social media and responsible section leaders helped to form the student section into what it became this year.
“The old section leaders did good,” Kaufman said. “We did great.”