5 Ways Charlotte’s Flight Club Soars

January 31, 2017

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

CHARLOTTE – “One night to become State Champions.”

On social media and written at the bottom of its itinerary for the night, Charlotte’s Flight Club made perfectly clear what Saturday’s Battle of the Fans visit meant to a student section that while only a few years old has quickly become one of Michigan’s most accomplished – and is striving to become known as the state’s best. 

Students filled stands covering one end of the court at Charlotte’s “Dome” as we enjoyed the third of our five-visit tour on a night saluting local law enforcement.

The breakdown: In two years, Charlotte’s student section has come from nonexistent to become a two-time BOTF finalist. As we learned during our 2016 trip, it was hatched during a series of January 2015 snow days, when student leaders took advantage of the break by meeting and forming a Flight Club to give more support at first to the school’s basketball teams and then to all Orioles athletes. The section gained steam over the course of last school year and especially last winter during a strong start for the boys basketball team, and despite graduating nearly all of its leaders last spring returned in force this fall to become a regular part of student life at the school.

We visited for Saturday’s boys basketball game against DeWitt and met with seniors Jess Ramos, Grant Seavolt, Cassie Cotter, Connor Rosekrans and Ari Beutler.

See our video below, followed by five reasons the Flight Club continues to take off.

1. They have been building – literally.

The Flight Club claims to have more props than any student section in the state, and it’s a strong argument. They sadly waved goodbye to the S.S. Flightanic – a rolling boat they featured last season – after it ran aground in storage. But section leaders came back in August with their tools and paint cans ready. They built a giant “bird cage” out of PVC pipe to house Charlotte’s football teams at their field entrance before they busted out before games this fall. They created a second giant tifo (a.k.a. giant banner seen in photo below) that makes trips to most big games. And we enjoyed watching again as a member of the Club popped from the homemade oversized jack-in-the-box rolled out after the third quarter. A fan slip-n-slide set up for an early football game didn’t really take off, but most of the rest have been big winners – including the face-paint station in one corner of the gym where anyone can get made up to further show support.

2. They got organized.

As noted above, the Flight Club is barely two years old but quickly has grown into a force – and especially this school year as it’s become more organized. They received a new “nest” (our word, not theirs), a classroom where they store their many gizmos and gear and plan their work. White boards on one wall were loaded with lists and maps of the gym showing which sections of fans would sit where Saturday, while newspaper clips detailing their successes filled a bulletin board on another wall and a mural created by section co-creator and 2016 graduate Lindsey Carlson hung next to a letter sweater formerly worn by the dad of faculty section adviser Tyler Bartolacci, a 2007 grad. Section leaders now attend meetings every Monday and others as needs arise, created an itinerary for Saturday that was sent around on social media before the game, and members of the section proudly wore around their necks “boarding passes” – not that they needed identifying, but a neat show of solidarity nonetheless.

And leaders are still giving “Flight Club” lessons – videos over Twitter to show some of the cheers they’ll use at future events.

3. The pilots guide them home.

Last year, section leaders patrolled in front of the section – “flight attendants” showing the way. Taking the reins during games this year are “pilots,” one on each side of the baseline, standing on risers, megaphones in hand to provide the direction for all to hear and see. On Saturday, new leaders stepped up every quarter to guide the section and unify it for some awesome chants including a drum clap during the first half that will be a highlight of this year’s BOTF tour.

4. They’re making ‘highlights’ along the way.

Most schools with student sections can count on seeing them at football and basketball games. Starting in the fall, the Flight Club selected “highlight games” in every sport to also cheer – and not just for the more popular spectator sports like volleyball or soccer. The Club has cheered at girls and boys swimming & diving meets and at a hockey game this winter despite having only one Charlotte student on a co-op team with Lansing Catholic, Mason and Lansing Christian players. The first highlight game was a girls golf match during the fall, where 10 members of the Club cheered from the clubhouse as their classmates played the ninth fairway. And they packed local Char Lanes for a Neon Out and lots of “Strike, Strike, Strike” for a bowling match. “A lot of kids on the bowling team were really excited to see us there,” Rosekrans said. “They were talking about it the whole next week: ‘Thanks for coming. That was awesome.’”

5. They’ve got P.R.I.D.E.

Purpose. Respect. Integrity. Dedication. Excellence. PRIDE is a school motto, and a large board near the gym doors explains how students should be guided by those qualities in the classrooms and hallways. But Club members also have a lot of pride (the non-acronym meaning) in their school, and have risen as a giant in fan support at a time when Charlotte’s most recognizable sports teams aren’t having a ton of success. Driving their athletes to do their best only makes the Flight Club cheer louder. Students filled multiple spectator buses for football games, load the stands for basketball games, have worked closely with the middle school’s “Junior Flight Club” that also got organized this year, and had no doubts about making another run at Battle of the Fans after making an impressive debut but coming up short of the title in 2016. “Everyone has a ton of fun at the games,” Rosekrans said. “I think they naturally thought, let’s do it again next year.”

In their words

Setting themselves apart: “We kept seeing what we could do to make us champions,” Ramos said. “We wanted to know what would set us apart, and we spent a lot of time thinking about that and trying to see what we did last year compared to this year that we wanted to do differently.”

Memories made: “I made a lot of great memories just through the Flight Club, especially this year with football,” Seavolt said. “It’ been a lot to remember.”

Just say the word: “Get the community involved. People want to come to the games. They just don’t know about it all the time,” Rosekrans said. “Social media. Tell people. Literally, that’s all it is. The power of talking to someone is very underestimated.”

Next stop on BOTF: We'll visit Petoskey for Wednesday’s boys basketball game against Sault Ste. Marie and Frankenmuth for Friday’s boys basketball game against Millington. Click for coverage of our visits to Boyne City on Jan. 13 and Traverse City West on Jan. 20.

The Battle of the Fans is sponsored in part by the United Dairy Industry of Michigan.

PHOTOS: (Top) Charlotte's "Flight Club" chants during a drum clap Saturday. (Middle) Flight Club members hold up two giant tifos during the Battle of the Fans visit. (Photos by Teresa Johns.)

MHSAA Student Advisory Council Names Members from Class of 2024

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

May 9, 2022

Eight student-athletes who will be juniors at their schools during the 2022-23 academic year have been selected to serve two-year terms on the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Student Advisory Council.

The Student Advisory Council is a 16-member group which provides feedback on issues impacting educational athletics from a student’s perspective, and also is involved in the operation of Association championship events and other programming. Members of the Student Advisory Council serve for two years, beginning as juniors. Eight new members are selected annually to serve on the SAC, with nominations made by MHSAA member schools. The incoming juniors will join the group of eight seniors-to-be appointed a year ago.

Selected to begin serving on the Student Advisory Council in 2022-23 are: Kannon Duffing, Manchester; Claire Gorno, Gaylord; M'Khi Guy, Muskegon; Dawsen Lehew, Marcellus; Christian Sanders, Detroit Renaissance; Ben Sytsma, Grand Rapids Christian; Madeline Werner, Bay City All Saints; and DaNia Womack, Dearborn Advanced Tech Academy.

Those eight new members were selected from 115 applicants. That applicant total was the second-most ever, with the last three years featuring the three highest totals.

The first Student Advisory Council was formed for the 2006-07 school year. With the addition of this class beginning this summer, members will have represented 129 schools from 48 leagues plus independent schools that do not play in a league. Combined, the new appointees have participated in nine MHSAA sports, and seven will be the first SAC members from their respective schools.

The Student Advisory Council generally meets seven times each school year, and once more for a 24-hour leadership camp. In addition to assisting in the promotion of the educational value of interscholastic athletics, the Council discusses issues dealing with the 4 S’s of educational athletics: scholarship, sportsmanship, safety (including health and nutrition) and the sensible scope of athletic programs. There also is a fifth S discussed by the group – student leadership.

This school year, the Council selected the 2021-22 “Battle of the Fans X” champion, handed out championship trophies at Finals events, continued discussions about COVID-related issues and provided feedback to the MHSAA Representative Council on proposed rule changes.

The new additions to the SAC will join the Class of 2023 members who were selected a year ago: Sam Gibson, Plainwell; Brady Leistra, East Grand Rapids; Caroline Li, Okemos; Sam Matias, Lansing Catholic; Zar'ria Mitchell, Saginaw Heritage; Carney Salo, Escanaba; Brandon Thompson, Petersburg Summerfield; and Keira Tolmie, Clarkston.

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.