Contact: Geoff Kimmerly
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EAST LANSING, Mich. – Feb. 18 – The Traverse City West student cheering section, the “Bleacher Creatures,” has been selected as this year’s Michigan High School Athletic Association “Battle of the Fans X” winner as the top student cheering section among member schools.
This was the 10th year for the contest, which was organized by MHSAA staff and its 16-member Student Advisory Council.
Student sections from Buchanan, Midland Dow and Traverse City West were selected as finalists from a pool of nine semifinalists after a social media “Challenge Round.” MHSAA staff visited all three finalists for home basketball games during the last three weeks and produced videos of each section for the MHSAA’s YouTube channel. A public vote was conducted on the MHSAA’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok feeds beginning Tuesday and ending Thursday, and those results influenced the Advisory Council vote as members selected the champion.
The Student Advisory Council also based its vote on the following criteria: positive sportsmanship, student body participation, school spirit, originality of cheers, organization of the group, section leadership and overall fun.
"For a big school like West, it’s easy for the student section to look small in a big gym or for there to be too many people to keep organized," said Andy Frushour, MHSAA director of brand management and advisor to the Student Advisory Council. "This year, the Bleacher Creatures cracked the code: They had a huge section, everyone was cheering in unison, and it looked like they were having a ton of fun.”
Students were invited during the fall to submit a short video, via TikTok, of their cheering sections in action. From that initial group of applicants, nine semifinalists were selected, also including Howell, Imlay City, North Muskegon, Petersburg Summerfield, Spring Lake and Yale. Those semifinalists then were invited to take part in a series of social media “challenges” emphasizing the work of their student sections.
For links to stories and MHSAA-produced videos for all three finalists, click https://bit.ly/3rXM5yO. Traverse City West will accept its Battle of the Fans X championship banner during halftime of the first Division 2 Boys Basketball Semifinal on March 25 at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center. Finalists Buchanan and Midland Dow also have been invited to Breslin to be honored for this season’s achievement.
Traverse City West, on Feb. 8, was the third of three stops on the MHSAA finalists tour.
"I remember talking with some of my close friends who also (are involved) with the student section, during the early stages of this," West senior Patrick Guiney said. "(Saying) if we can win this and make our impact, that will last for a long time, and that will definitely fuel students of the future.
"I know that inspiring those kids and showing them how awesome a student section can be will definitely have a positive impact on the future of TC West and ensure that kids will be able to go to student sections with the same energy and have the same amount of fun. Because everybody deserves to have that experience."
The Student Advisory Council is made up of eight seniors and eight juniors, who each serve two-year terms. The Council acts as the voice of Michigan's student-athletes; it serves as a student sounding board for the MHSAA's Representative Council, assists in planning Sportsmanship Summits, Captains Clinics and other student leadership events; participates in a yearly focus group about the state of high school sports for Michigan State University's Institute for the Study of Youth Sports and assists with medal ceremonies at MHSAA championship events.
The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.4 million spectators each year.