Student life in the dog pound

“P-A-R-T-Y party party’s on our side. Where’s the party? The party’s over here!” The bleachers rumble so loud it echoes through the gymnasium. If you haven’t attended a long-awaited game, have you truly experienced high school? It’s difficult to describe how it feels in the stands, freezing with the student body to watch our school play a late-season football game unless you’ve done it.

To be fair, if you asked most of the students who show support at these games what the rules of football, basketball, or volleyball are, they probably wouldn’t have an answer. Additionally, it’s not commonly known that there’s a difference between the football and basketball student sections. Football is the “Dog Pound” and basketball is the “Sixth Man.” But a student section isn’t necessarily about the sport, it’s about the atmosphere we create as a community.

Abigail Kestle

There’s a driving force behind the student section; she can always be found front and center. I’ve caught senior Zoe Hargis on camera at more games, home and away, than any other person, and her reactions are far from tame. Hargis is one of the most passionate and devoted “sixth men” I’ve captured for the paper. She emulates the crowd’s feelings with dramatic gestures and helps lead the students in chants and celebrations.

“I like to be vocal, and I’m not trying to stand out from everyone else. That’s just who I am. I like to react a lot. I have bigger reactions than a lot of other people do,” said Hargis. “I’ll fall on the ground. I’ll put my hands up. I’ll do various things. I lead some chants that kind of just flow between me and some other people. But if I see an opportunity to yell a chant and they’re not doing it, I will, because I don’t think it has to be a male to do that… I think that girls can have just as much fun as guys can. And we can do the same things in the student section as they can.”

Abigail Kestle

Zoe Hargis isn’t the only voice of the Dog Pound. There’s a student-led team that handles organizing the section. Senior Jacob Wood’s role in the group consists of more than leading chants in the front row.

“I usually come up with the themes, make all the posts on Twitter, and then we all just kind of go together and start the chants,” said Wood. 

The passionate energy created in the crowd is a group effort centered around school spirit and participation.

“I feel like it [school spirit] just makes our community tighter,” said Wood.

Abigail Kestle

The student section leaders try to keep the crowd’s etiquette positive and uplifting because the jeering can get out of hand with such a reactive student body. 

“We definitely will make some noise if you make a mistake. We’ll definitely cheer our team on if we do something really good. We try to support our own team a lot, instead of bringing the other team down,” elaborated Hargis.

Although I have an optimistic, maybe even idealized, view of the RHS student section, it isn’t always a decent place to be. People get rowdy, taunts and profanities are habitual, and students freely share their opinions in the stands. A large percentage of the student body is sportsmanlike and refrain from participating in the disrespectful banter of the crowd. RHS values school spirit, but our “Bulldog Pride” can quickly turn toxic towards opposing players or even the referees of the game.

Varsity cheerleader and junior Jordyne Knorr views the student section from a different perspective than most people. The cheerleaders create an atmosphere on the sidelines that is boosted by the student section’s participation.

Abigail Kestle

“I think it’s wonderful. [The student section] does show school spirit very well. But sometimes it’s a little crazy, but I mean, we try to make the best of it,” said Knorr.

Even though the crowd may not be for everyone, being a part of the RHS student section is a great way to get to know your classmates outside of school and to show support for our student-athletes. 

“I’ve had many different players tell me that when we’re loud and when we’re cheering them on and when we’re supporting that it makes them play better because they feel like they have the atmosphere behind them instead of being hated on,” said Hargis.

Abigail Kestle