Battle of the Fans: Frankenmuth Dance Party
January 21, 2012
FRANKENMUTH -- The hometown Eagles hosted Freeland in a boys basketball game Saturday night.
And a 250-student chicken dance broke out.
Sure, Frankenmuth calls itself “Michigan’s Little Bavaria.” And things were a little ramped up for the student section's "German Night" -- which, by the way, was scheduled long before this game was announced as the first stop on the MHSAA's "Battle of the Fans" tour.
But the rest of the dancing and singing that made up most of the game’s two hours? That’s just the usual for this “Battle of the Fans” finalist. The Eagles student section turns every boys and girls basketball game into a dance party. And everyone in the gym, regardless of allegiance, is invited.
“That is what we are best at. That is what we are known for,” Frankenmuth senior Brennan Webb said. “Since we do it for every single game, all of these other student sections expect that. And when you come to our house, that’s what you’ve got to expect.”
MHSAA staff and its 16-member Student Advisory Council members also will visit "Battle of the Fans" finalists Reese, Grand Rapids Christian, Rockford and Petoskey over the next month and shoot videos that will be part of an online vote on the MHSAA's Facebook page. The winner will be announced Feb. 24, and clips from all five videos will be shown during the Girls and Boys Basketball Finals in March at the Breslin Center.
Eagles leaders met before this season and planned out themes for all 20 regular season games plus every one through a potential MHSAA Finals run. Super Hero night was pretty cool. So was Christmas night. And of course, German night was a hit.
But mostly, it comes back to singing and dancing. Usually, the students bring the music in the form of a boom box. This time, they had a DJ complete with lights flashing over that section of stands.
Webb carries a blue notecard with cheers listed on the front and back -- in case he needs a quick reference during the game. Saturday’s sing-along included some hip-hop, a Bob Seger tune and a Christmas carol. They have chants for specific players on their team, a German chant for after successful free throws, and a breakdown for timeouts “to keep the energy up.”
“The past few years we had pretty funny energetic people,” senior Jacob Fahrenbruch said. “So it kinda took over, and we made every single person come to every single basketball game.”
Someone comes to all of them -- even if the section numbered just five for a game an hour’s drive away and the night before exams earlier this month.
Officials and opposing coaches both have paid compliments to the section for the atmosphere it creates. Students chant “Come on over” to those from opposing cheering sections -- and have had some takers. Eagles cheerers played a half-serious game of red rover with Marysville students during their teams’ volleyball Quarterfinal this fall. Just like the players, the schools’ cheering sections also did a postgame handshake. “We like to make friends,” senior Zack Robinson laughed.
An informal student section has existed for a few years. Themes were set mostly by word of mouth. A group of seniors usually led, but nothing too organized.
This winter, the Eagles got serious.
Seniors Webb, Robinson, Nick Veitengruber, Evan Escott, Jeff Hillman and Fahrenbruch make up a big part of the leadership assembly. They created a Facebook page for announcements. They also take advantage of a 15-minute weekly in-school televised news broadcast to teach cheers to their classmates.
Consider: Roughly 6,500 people live in Frankenmuth and the surrounding township. So during Saturday's halftime, when the Eagles’ student section emptied onto the floor and started chicken dancing, those fans accounted for roughly half of the student body -- and nearly four percent of the school district's population.
Frankenmuth's cheerers have caught some occasional grief from opposing fans when they go on the road. But their enthusiasm, positivity and open invite to join in has led students from other schools to say they wish they could be a part. And, of course, a little making fun of one's self goes a long way.
After a big Freeland shot Saturday, Eagles cheeres chanted, "In our faces!" And after Frankenmuth standout Kent Redford air-balled a shot, his classmates directed the usual "Air ball" chant at him -- all in good fun.
“It usually takes a while, but then we break them in,” Webb said. “That’s how we usually make friends. We make fun of ourselves. (They think) these guys are idiots, but they’re pretty funny. We’ll hang out with them.”
Performance of the Week: Macomb Dakota's Gracie Maloney
May 12, 2023
Gracie 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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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.