SAC Sound-off: The Sixth Man

February 14, 2012

It's double overtime and your legs are exhausted. The score is tied with 10 seconds left. Your team needs that key play to win the game. It’s do-or-die, and all the while there are fans screaming so loud your ears are ringing.

I don’t know about you, but most athletes get a much-needed boost in adrenaline when they hear this. I know I have.

Crowd noise plays a huge factor in deciding the outcome of the game. It doesn’t necessarily have to be that “double-overtime buzzer-beater” moment. Steady cheering throughout the game can help a team gain momentum and push through while the other team is near exhaustion.

Once in a while, when I’m playing, I’ll glance up at the crowd. Just to see the excitement on their faces gives me the extra drive. They are there to watch you. YOU are the showcase, the main event, the entertainment.

The MHSAA Student Advisory Council has been featuring the best student sections in the state with our “Battle of the Fans” contest. The fan bases for some of the schools in Michigan is incredible. They all have one goal – help their team to victory.

I attend Rudyard High School in the Upper Peninsula. I come from a small area, and the population is much smaller than many communities down-state. Life is a little slower up here, but the townspeople all have one thing we can do to get away from everyday stress – go to the big game.

Whether it be Friday night football, or District Finals in basketball, you can expect to see Main Street empty and the school parking lot full of cars.

One game I will always remember for lots of fans and noise was our basketball Quarterfinal in 2010. I was a sophomore, brought up to varsity toward the end of the regular season. I had gotten more playing time in the playoffs and got to play some solid minutes in the Quarterfinal. We ended up losing the game, but the atmosphere was exhilarating. To step on the court, and look up and witness 3,000 fans going absolutely nuts gave me an experience I will never forget. Keep in mind, Rudyard’s population is a whopping 500 people.

For me, there are those certain fans for whom you always want to perform well. I am always working hard to impress my grandparents. They live more than 100 miles away and still manage to attend a good portion of my games. They always have been supportive, and I always try my best to win for them and for my team.

Then there are the young ones who look up to you. Just this year, my basketball coaches started a youth basketball camp, and every Saturday we open the gym and kids as young as 3-years-old get their chance to be like us. They bounce the ball with the biggest smiles on their faces, and we know that they are always watching us on and off the court – and always learning from us.

I once had a young boy ask me, “Can you slam dunk it during a game for me this year?” He had been attending camp every Saturday and watched some of our practices. Just knowing how much of an influence we have on the youth of our town makes me want to be even better, and work even harder.

Young or old, sold-out house or not, fans always will be essential in supplying the home team advantage and deciding the outcome of the game. And they’ve left me with more sports-related memories than just those made on the court.

Tyler Wilson, Rudyard senior

  • Sports: Football, basketball, baseball
  • Non-sports activities: Student Council, band, drama, National Honor Society
  • Favorite class: AP government
  • Must-see TV: "Pardon The Interruption"
  • One shining moment: When we made the football playoffs this year after starting the season 2-3.
  • What's next: I plan on attending college and playing a sport. I’m not exactly sure where, but I have been narrowing it down. I plan on studying pre-med.
  • My favorite part of game day is: ... spending time with teammates. Sometimes we will have a team breakfast on game day. We’ll get together during lunch at school, etc. Just the feeling you get when you walk around the halls wearing a jersey or being dressed up.

PHOTO courtesy of Tyler Wilson.

Performance of the Week: Macomb Dakota's Gracie Maloney

May 12, 2023

Gracie MaloneyGracie Maloney ♦ Macomb Dakota
Junior ♦ Softball

Maloney struck out 21 batters – for every one of her team’s outs – in Dakota’s 9-1 victory over Grosse Pointe North on May 1. She gave up only two hits and also hit a home run for the Cougars, who are ranked No. 1 in Division 1 in the latest state coaches association poll. Maloney is one of only 13 pitchers in state softball history to strike out 21 or more hitters during a seven-inning game.

Also a third baseman, Maloney started last season’s Division 1 Final at that position and threw an inning of relief as well as Dakota finished runner-up to Allen Park. She also plays basketball, and has committed to sign to play softball at University of North Texas. She’s considering studying sports management there as she aspires to become a college softball coach.

@mhsaasports 🥎 POW: Gracie Maloney #softball #strikeout #strike #performanceoftheweek #homerun #dakota #macombdakota #cougars #MHSAA #highschoolsports #tiktalk #interview #TikTok#mistudentaid #fyp @gracie ♬ Beat Automotivo Tan Tan Tan Viral - WZ Beat

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2022-23 Honorees

May 4: Braxton Brann, Ann Arbor Huron track & field - Report
April 27:
Owen Patton, Vestaburg track & field - Report
April 20:
Lilly Damm, Millington softball - Report
April 13:
Larissa Huffman, Mackinaw City track & field - Report
April 6:
Darius Acuff, Detroit Cass Tech basketball - Report
March 23:
Regan Finkbeiner, Hemlock basketball - Report
March 16:
Alaina Yaney, Grand Ledge gymnastics - Report
March 9:
Braeden Davis, Dundee wrestling - Report
March 2:
Gabriel Sanchez-Burks, Ann Arbor Pioneer swimming - Report
Feb. 23:
Grace Sobczak, Marquette swimming - Report
Feb. 16:
Kaitlynn Demers, Gibraltar Carlson competitive cheer - Report
Feb. 9:
Indya Davis, West Bloomfield basketball - Report
Feb. 2:
Braydon Sorenson, Onekama skiing - Report
Jan. 26:
Shayna Hruska, Iron Mountain wrestling - Report
Jan. 19:
Kayla Tafanelli, Warren Woods-Tower bowling - Report
Dec. 20:
Brenden Paden, Riverview Gabriel Richard hockey - Report
Dec. 16:
Tuff Scott, Holton bowling - Report
Dec. 9:
Macey Fegan, Standish-Sterling basketball - Report
Dec. 2:
Treyton Siegert, Gladwin football - Report
Nov. 24:
Lily Witte, Dexter diving - Report
Nov. 17:
Navea Gauthier, Shelby volleyball - Report
Nov. 10:
Derek Huisman, Holland Christian soccer - Report
Nov. 3:
Thomas Westphal, New Baltimore Anchor Bay cross country - Report
Oct. 27:
Justin Wickey, Colon football - Report
Oct. 20:
Owen DeMuth, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood tennis - Report
Oct. 13:
Mia Melendez, Ann Arbor Greenhills golf - Report
Oct. 6:
Shawn Foster, Grand Ledge football - Report
Sept. 30:
Hannah Smith, Temperance Bedford swimming - Report
Sept. 22:
Helen Sachs, Holland West Ottawa cross country - Report
Sept. 15:
Nina Horning, Lake Orion volleyball - Report
Sept 8:
Arturo Romero, Muskegon Oakridge soccer - Report
Sept. 1:
Austin King, Midland Dow tennis - Report
Aug. 25:
Olivia Hemmila, Troy Athens golf - Report

PHOTOS courtesy of the Maloney family.