Herd dat? Buchanan Back for BOTF III

January 21, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

BUCHANAN – Andi Frost might be walking the hall between classes with some of her senior friends when a freshman will approach and ask about the next theme night.

Or a quick trip to the gas station could turn into a conversation with locals about what she and her classmates have planned for Friday’s basketball game.

Once, during a trip to a few miles south to Steak & Shake in South Bend, a patron from across the border noticed her “Herd” shirt and asked if she was from Buchanan.

Plenty of notice has come this small town’s way since “The Herd” student cheering section won last year’s MHSAA Battle of the Fans II. No question, the championship helped some find the small southwestern school on the map – including one Twitter follower who made contact from Nebraska.  

The recognition has been fun and the friendly comments from all over the state much appreciated. But the best to come from last year’s formation of The Herd, without doubt, is the sense of togetherness that was cultivated in the bleachers but has infused the entire community.

“The best thing that happened from this whole experience is that it’s even higher than a title now,” Frost said. “It’s our way of life in Buchanan. It’s the whole school, all the teachers, everyone in the community. Grandparents, moms, dads and little brothers; it’s the whole town.

“You sense it in the building; we’re not just a school with different grades. We know everybody now. Everybody has become a big family.”  

Buchanan on Friday was the first stop on this season’s Battle of the Fans III finalists tour. MHSAA staff and Student Advisory Council members will visit Beaverton, Bridgman, Frankfort and Traverse City West for home games later this month and during the first two weeks of February. The winner will be determined by an Advisory Council vote weighted by a public vote on the MHSAA’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram sites from Feb. 18-20. The champion will be announced Feb. 21 and recognized March 21 during the Boys Basketball Semifinals at Michigan State’s Breslin Center.

Buchanan’s Herd got its start during an MHSAA Sportsmanship Summit during fall 2012 after a presentation on the benefits of a positive, fun student cheering section and the Battle of the Fans contest in particular.

Section leaders and teacher “shepherds” did some quick work to make The Herd formidable – and start the ball rolling toward a culture change in the school and a new unity felt throughout the town of roughly 4,500 residents.  

This school year, The Herd came back – and this time much more organized.

Nearly 40 students showed up for the section’s first meeting last spring as it looked ahead to 2013-14. A group of roughly 60 – or 13 percent of the student body – came to another planning meeting over the summer.

Leaders of the section realized early that with so much interest, organization would be key. They split their classmates into small groups and gave each a task – coming up with theme night ideas, new cheers or planning pep rallies or “traveling pep rallies” to the middle and elementary schools.

What emerged was a fall schedule that included plans for attending not only home football games, but also Herd gatherings at volleyball and soccer games and a cross country race. The section has a full line-up for its home basketball games, both boys and girls, including individual cheers for every player and 22 cheers/chants/dances to break out during time-outs.

 “We’ve made such a big deal out of all of this, there’s such good positivity everywhere, and everyone just loves it. So we definitely want to keep it as a tradition,” said junior Ellie Hurd, also a section leader last year as a sophomore.

One of the reigning champ’s biggest challenges this fall was coming up with fresh material to blend in with some that leaders wanted to carry over from the section’s inaugural season.

Last year’s favorites are mixed with versions of more recently popular “Timber” and “Wrecking Ball.” Pregame introductions are still lights-out with Herd members providing cell phone spotlights. And the Herd continues to sing the national anthem before games, on this night with Frost on the microphone leading the crowd.

Perhaps the most compelling part of Buchanan’s victory story in 2013 centered on one of the section’s main motivations – the untimely death the summer before of classmate Dilan Shearer. Another challenge this past summer was deciding how best to continue on while keeping intact the togetherness that sad event helped create.

Similar to last season – when the section finished game nights by singing Shearer’s favorite song, “Springsteen” – every home night this winter ends with another community song – Jason Aldean’s “Tattoos On This Town.”

“Last year we had all of that positive energy taking something bad, some sadness, and we turned it into something better,” Martinez said. “This year, we turned what we did last year, all of the good things that happened, and made it into something more.”

The Herd isn’t just about showing up strong at games. They’re frequently called to show up at events in the community and have used their powers of influence to help their neighbors – raising roughly $1,300 plus clothing donations after a local apartment fire and a few thousand dollars to assist community supporter Don Ross, who died Thursday after suffering from Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

“‘It’s left our mark on us, and we’ve left our mark on it,’ and that’s what we’ve done,” Frost said, referring to a favorite lyric from Aldean’s song.

“We’ve built everlasting memories,” Martinez added, “just by all of the stuff we’ve done with The Herd.”

Filling the stands for every home varsity hoops game meant five nights of basketball last week. But the Herd showed en masse, and it’s fair to believe made a difference – the boys team in particular hasn’t lost a home game since the first of 2012-13 and came back from 20 points down to beat a rival earlier this season.

When senior A.J. Reed’s seventh grade brother told A.J. he was considering leading The Herd in high school instead of playing basketball, A.J. was stunned (and told his brother to stick with his sport). But in just over a year, the section has established that level of presence within the school.

“Traditional high schools, you think about if they have a good football team or a good basketball team every year,” said Reed, who like other section leaders plays at least one sport. “I think when a lot of people think of us, now recently, they’ve thought of the student section. It’s almost like a sport to us. We are a team.”

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

PHOTOS: (Top) Buchanan's "Herd" and its boys basketball team gather for "Tattoos On This Town" after Friday's win over Niles Brandywine. (Middle) Members of the student section lock in for a rollercoaster ride during halftime Friday. (Photos courtesy of Jessica Cornelius.)

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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MHSAA.com's "Performance of the Week" features are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at www.michigan.gov/mistudentaid and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.

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.