You Can Create a Thriving Cheer Section

January 8, 2013

By Carly Joseph
Pontiac Notre Dame Prep senior

This time last year, I spent an entire cold winter evening alone in my room on the computer watching the surprisingly large number of Battle of the Fans entries. 

I remember being amazed not only by the number of entries, as it was the first year of BOTF, but by the spirit, participation, and positivity of those schools as well.

Though it was both exciting and inspiring to witness such an overload of school spirit all at once, a hint of jealousy crept into my mind. “My school could never do this,” I thought.  

I wondered what it would be like to be part of a school that actually had a decent student section. Throughout my first three years of high school, it seemed as if most kids were usually too busy to come to football and basketball games, myself included. Especially since students attending my school, Notre Dame Prep, come from all different cities, the drive back out to school for the game was always a convenient excuse not to attend.

Even with a slightly pessimistic approach for changing my school’s general attitude toward attending games for this year, I learned that with the help of other students and a lot of organization, the student section at NDP could be transformed from essentially non-existent to the place to be on a Friday night. 

Aided by the success of our football team and a group of junior and senior boys who really started to embrace the idea of having a good student section, everything really started to pick up. We held weekly Varsity Club meetings to decide the theme for each game, and even formed a designated group of student section leaders called the Irish Guard, who are responsible for leading cheers and keeping everyone paying attention to the game. We also started to promote the games and the theme for each game on Twitter, which really helped remind students to come out to games and get excited to support our teams.

The NDP student section has by no means reached its full potential, but it is definitely moving forward and will only improve in the years to come. Despite the fact that our student section may not be the best in the state (yet) or even have enough organization to create an entry for this year’s BOTF competition, I think that our transformation truly shows that any school can create a thriving student section – if they really want it to happen.  

Whether your school has an impressive student section or maybe needs a little help starting up, keep in mind that organization and positivity are the keys to making it better.

Click for more information on the Battle of the Fans contest. Deadline for school entries is Saturday. 

Carly Joseph, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep senior

  • Sport: Cross country
  • Non-sports activities: Varsity Club, Spanish National Honor Society
  • Favorite class: AP Spanish
  • Up next: Joseph will attend Michigan Technological University and study biomedical engineering.
  • Career sports highlight: Running a personal best at my cross country Regional (21:15) this fall.
  • Pump-up jam: "Round and Round" by Imagine Dragons
  • Must-see TV: "Dexter"
  • Favorite film: "She's the Man"

PHOTO: The Pontiac Notre Dame Prep student cheering section roots on its football team during "Neon Night" this fall. (Photo courtesy of Carly Joseph.)

Performance of the Week: Escanaba's Sophia Wagner

December 8, 2023

Sophia WagnerSophia Wagner ♦ Escanaba
Senior ♦ Gymnastics

In just her team’s second competition this season, Wagner set program records with a 9.8 on floor exercise and 37.380 all-around to finish first in both at the Escanaba Elks Invitational. The floor exercise record topped the previous Escanaba-best 9.7 scored by current senior teammate Sophie Lehto last season.

Escanaba’s gymnastics program has made major statewide strides over the last half-decade, and Wagner reached the Finals podium last season tying for fifth on Division 2 balance beam with a score of 9.025 while also tying for 22nd on vault. The week before, Wagner helped lead Escanaba to a sixth-place Regional finish against a field that included the last two Finals team champions. She also played tennis and was part of the No. 3 doubles runner-up as Escanaba shared the Upper Peninsula Division 1 team title this fall, and she finished second in pole vault and ran on the seventh-place 400-meter relay in the spring as Escanaba finished third at the UPD1 Girls Track & Field Finals.

@mhsaasports 🤸POW: Sophia Wagner #gymnastics #letsgo #team #escanaba #part1 #highschoolsports #tiktalk #interview #performanceoftheweek #mistudentaid #fyp #MHSAA ♬ original sound - MHSAA

@mhsaasports 🤸POW: Sophia Wagner #tiktalk #questiontime #part2 #simonebiles #gymnastics #letsgo #proposal #hearthands #performanceoftheweek #mistudentaid #fyp #MHSAA ♬ original sound - MHSAA

Follow the MHSAA on TikTok.'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 and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.

Past 2023-24 Honorees

Dec. 1: Isaiah Marshall, Southfield Arts & Technology football - Report
Nov. 24:
Sarah Bradley, Clarkston Everest Collegiate volleyball - Report
Nov. 17:
Kalieb Osborne, Waterford Mott football - Report
Nov. 10:
Tekalegn Vlasma, Muskegon Western Michigan Christian soccer - Report
Nov. 3:
Colton Kinnie, Birmingham Seaholm football - Report
Oct. 27:
Lauren Timpf, Macomb Lutheran North golf - Report
Oct. 20:
Alena Li, Okemos golf - Report
Oct. 13:
Seth Norder, Grand Haven cross country - Report
Oct. 5:
Paige Anderson, Muskegon Reeths-Puffer golf - Report
Sept. 29:
MacKenzie Bisballe, Lake City volleyball - Report
Sept. 22:
Jhace Massey, Gladwin football - Report
Sept. 15:
Kaylee Draper, Sturgis swimming - Report
Sept. 8:
Owen Jackson, Traverse City St. Francis tennis - Report
Sept. 1:
Rachel Forsyth, Ann Arbor Pioneer cross country - Report

(Photos courtesy of Victory Video and Photography.)