BOTF Candidates Share Battle Strategy

January 29, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The 2014 Battle of the Fans tour picks up again Friday following a two-week break after an opening visit to reigning champion Buchanan on Jan. 17.

In case you missed it, the bar is set high for those hoping to unseat The Herd as BOTF champion. But there is plenty of opportunity to meet the challenge – if contenders keep in mind some key reminders below from those that didn’t advance to this winter’s championship round.

We’ve learned during three years of Battles of the Fans that our student sections come up with ideas we’d never have imagined ourselves. But the best are rooted in some of the following core values, as shown from six schools that just missed this year's finalists cut:

(Click to watch our playlist of all entries submitted for BOTF III.)

Take pride

There’s a reason St. Joseph nearly made this year’s BOTF finals – the Bear Den is no joke. Many in number. United in purpose. And as its contest entry describes, all in for Bear Pride.

Most BOTF candidates film their entry videos at home games, where they get the biggest crowds. But the Bears filmed at least part of theirs on the road – at rival Stevensville Lakeshore, where the turnout appeared equally strong.

Bear Pride is about a lot of things, leaders told us. Our favorite? “Bear Pride is always cheering, even if we’re losing.” We couldn’t agree more.

Plant your roots

We had a great time visiting Petoskey's Blue Crew when it was a finalist during our inaugural BOTF in 2012, and the Crew continues to do things the right way – starting with respect.

Petoskey’s section has a blast singing along with one of the best pep bands we’ve seen and cheering on their classmates while keeping things always positive. 

Get everyone involved

Bay City John Glenn filmed its application video during an America-themed game, which on its own is a sure unity-builder.

But its section leader also noted that the Bobcats players dress to the section’s themes on game nights, with boys coach Dale Clyde joining in as well.

And John Glenn gets an additional nod for a cool addition to the national anthem – the section created a giant paper American flag (see right) that it flew proudly.

Tune in to the game

A big part of BOTF is reminding students sections what their role should be. We want them to have a great time cheering on their classmates, while keeping in mind that the game being played is the main attraction.

That’s not an issue in Marlette, where fans’ focus is clearly on the home team.

Students gather on their section of sideline to create a tunnel as players enter the floor, wear T-shirts supporting their favorites, and boast “the loudest cheers you haven’t heard in years.” We’re not sure what that means, but we’re sure it’s a good thing.  

Be original

Mancelona is a BOTF finalist in the making.

The Ironmen have the right ingredients – many of their 282 students attending games, a Twitter presence to keep students informed (@DuerksTurks) and leaders to keep everyone organized as they seek to “do our thing; get rowdy.”

What takes a BOTF candidate to the next level is originality, and at Mancelona that starts with our favorite new section name. Duerk’s Turks is a spin-off of the last name of boys basketball coach Rick Duerksen, who just happens to own a turkey farm. Simple, but out of the box. Well done, Turks.  

Extra Credit: Get behind your community

We learned about Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard’s “Masquerade for Mott” when the Fighting Irish were among BOTF finalists in 2013. We continue to hear great things about student sections getting involved in their communities, and Gabriel’s Richard’s Masquerade is one of our favorite ideas.

The Irish reserve a week of games to raise money for the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan. Although last week’s frigid weather led to some postponements and rescheduling to finish this year’s Masquerade off later this season, the original schedule had the Irish dressing as super heroes for their Jan. 20 hockey game against Riverview Gabriel Richard at U-M’s Yost Arena, then jungle animals or in leopard/zebra prints for the “Welcome to the Jungle” Tuesday night girls basketball game.

Friday’s boys varsity basketball game against Detroit Catholic Central (to be made up Feb. 10) was to be an all-out Masquerade with a prize for the best costume – with DCC students also involved.

Those two schools raised $5,000 together during the 2013 Masquerade, on top of creating a spirit week of sorts to heat things up in the middle of an otherwise icy winter.

Next up on the BOTF tour is Bridgman, followed by a visit to Frankfort on Monday, Traverse City West on Feb. 7 and our finale Feb. 14 at Beaverton. 

Remember, vote for your favorite of the finalists on the MHSAA FacebookTwitter and Instagram pages from Feb. 18-20. This year’s winner will be announced Feb. 21 and recognized during the Boys Basketball Semifinals, March 21 at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center. 

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

PHOTOS: (Top) Clockwise, Mancelona's Duerk's Turks keep in touch on Twitter, Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard fans dress up for Christmas Night, Marlette fans wear shirts supporting their favorite players and St. Joseph students take their show on the road at Stevensville Lakeshore. (Middle) Bay City John Glenn students form a flag during a recent singing of the national anthem. (Below) Gabriel Richard students dress up for another theme night, this time bringing the beach to Ann Arbor. 

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

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.

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.