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It’s Gameday Saints

The behind-the-scenes of a Saint Thomas Aquinas FNL
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Alex Ridge

Students at Saint Thomas Aquinas love their gamedays. Little do they know how much work goes into their beloved games each week. With interviews from Cheer, Dance, Spirit Boys, and more the behind-the-scenes of gamedays are revealed.

Football

   As the main attraction of the night, the football team has much to do to prepare for their games. To start off the day, the team meets in the school chapel to attend early morning mass as a team. This is a valued gameday tradition that Aquinas holds, putting God first is one of the core values of the team and our school. The team also spends their school day dressed in formal button-down attire, representing the gentleman mentality they have. Captain Wyatt Potter said “My favorite part of game days is the team being together the whole day from the mass before school until about game time. The team atmosphere is very positive in just making sure everybody knows their jobs and uplifting when things go wrong on the field. Everybody has the want to win”. Many boys on the team agree with Potters’ statement. Junior Brett Yankovitch said, “We are all locked in but excited to be playing Football, All we [football players] think on game days is football”. The team here at Aquinas play for each other and for the school, making gamedays especially special for them.

 

Cheer

   The Aquinas Saints Cheer team was STAte champs last fall. Not only are they great competitors, but they also help get the student section ready and excited for football games. They lead the section with different chants and cheers to keep them engaged in the game. To prepare for game days, cheer has to make sure they have all moving factors in order. “We have to prepare our quarter changes and timeouts before the game and then practice them before the game starts. Then the day of, we are on the field ready to go an hour before the game starts with any signs we might need, our flags, and poms.” Reporter Kaitlyn Strout asked why Cheers’ role in-game days is important, and junior Delaney Albright answered perfectly. “Cheer is so important because it’s what keeps the student section tied into the game and it’s a positive atmosphere to be in that everyone should be able to experience”. She also asked what is something many students wouldn’t know cheer did for games, Junior Lauren Halpin said “Before the game, the cheer team has to get there one and a half hours before. We do a team dinner and have to tape the run-through for the football players”. So the signs all around the stadium and the pregame sign the boys run through are all made by cheer!

 

Dance

   The Spirits dance team are 8x national champions and 2x state finalists. The Varsity dance team can be found at any home game on the sidelines and at halftime. Not only do they have practice and team dinner before every game they also can be seen performing at tailgates and at the pregame on the football field. They get out to the field about an hour before kickoff ready to start the night with their pregame performance near the 20-yard line. Senior Captain Gabby Mallouk explained a few ins and outs of gamedays, “We [Dance Team] dance during timeouts so the crowd has something to watch while no football is going on, we cheer on the football boys the entire game, and put on a show during halftime for the big crowd full of parents and students”. Mallouk also explained how much work the dance team is that people don’t always realize. This past summer they had a four-day camp to get the team ready for all game days. The team also practices two times a week at 6 a.m. and then on Fridays they stay at school until after the football game is over. The girls work extremely hard but love every moment of being on the team.

 

Band

   On the far right of the Saints stands you will find the amazing band. There are 19 members of the band and drumline. Not only do they play during timeouts or other breaks throughout the game, but they also perform at home game halftime shows! “We have three songs that we perform in our halftime show,” says the Band Director, Mr. Burgess. He also said that in order to reduce boredom, the band phases [performances] gradually over multiple home games so the show doesn’t get boring. Outside of game days, the band has been “preparing” for performances ever since the summer. “We started working on our halftime performance during our two-week summer band camp held during the last week of July and the first week of August.  We will go outside to the stadium and continue working on our show every 2nd hour on even days.” On game days, the band has a team dinner in the commons at 4:45.  At 5:30 they change into their marching band uniforms, and at 6:00 pm, we warm up together as a group.  We then head into the stadium at 6:30 p.m. Sometimes the band performs the national anthem for the stadium and in that case, they get positioned on the field and ready to play after the players arrive on the field. The band works hard to give all players and students the gameday experience.

Spirit Boys

“Who are those boys standing in front of the student section on Friday nights?” you might ask. Those would be the Aquinas spirit boys. They lead the student section in chants and help keep the students engaged with the game. Senior spirit boy Cooper Welsh said, “Like [s] being a Spirit boy because the student section involved is a really fun part of high school sports so I enjoy getting to choose what chant we do along with the other spirit boys”. Welsh also explained how being a Spirit boy depends on the game. “There are about 7-10 spirit boys but it will most likely rotate throughout the year depending on who wants to do it for each game”. The boys combine with cheer during chants and watch dance and cheer during the breaks in the game. Always showing their support.

 

Photographers

   One of the more hidden parts of every gameday is the photographers. Without them, the players, dance team, cheer, band, and spirit boys would have no live-action pictures. Alex Ridge, a senior photographer, says there is so much preparation that goes into taking pictures at the game. Not only do they need all the correct equipment, but all photographers also need to talk beforehand about picture angles and positions so they have enough and don’t have too many pictures. She said last game day she had over 2000 pictures of the football players alone. After every game, she receives many texts from players and students wanting every picture taken of them so that they can post. She loves what she adds to gamedays and is happy to know how much help she gives.

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About the Contributor
Kaitlyn Strout, Reporter
Kaitlyn is a junior here at Saint Thomas Aquinas. She is a reporter for The Shield. At Aquinas, she is on the Varsity Spirits Dance Team and plays all year-round lacrosse. She is also the vice president of the Key Club.  Kaitlyn loves to hang out with friends in her free time. Her favorite thing to do with them is get brunch! She is extremely excited to be on the shield and looks forward to writing articles on different sports.
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    Kathleen RileSep 19, 2023 at 11:38 am

    Great article ! Even though I live miles away I feel I have experienced Game Day !!

    Reply