The student news publication of Libertyville High School

Kayla Fiore

Welcome to the Jungle

By day, Libertyville’s football stadium is a place where gym classes work out, cross country practice starts, and astroturf bakes in the sun. However, on Friday nights, the stadium transforms into a community filled with spirit, pride, and tradition. Although the main focus is on the football players storming the field, there are also eyes on the other players of the game: band, poms, cheerleading, and the student section. Their presences are often overlooked, but that does not make them any less important to the game’s atmosphere.

band-backsKayla Fiore

The Hype Team 

In the north bleachers, near the concession stands, the Marching Wildcats sit facing the game, waiting for a play to end on the field. Their new position near the end zone allows them to play downfield so more people can see and hear them, and they now have better access to move on and off the field. As some of the loudest people at the game, their job is to keep the crowd excited, even when there is a delay on the field.

Whether there’s something positive, and we want to reinforce that, anytime there’s a lull or a slow point, we want to provide something that keeps things moving in a positive direction,” explained band director Mr. Adam Gohr.

Pregame allows the musicians to start the night off with school spirit, by playing the national anthem, the opposing team’s fight song, as well as the LHS fight song. Then, throughout the game, the band will play short song snippets, such as “Hey Baby” and “Shake it Off,” to keep the crowd energized even when no football is in play.

“So as a marcher, I guess our job is to be the hype team, and get everybody hyped up,” senior alto saxophonist and social chair James He said.

At halftime, the band combines with poms to provide entertainment during the game’s biggest break. They often play multiple songs, including the one that poms dances to on the field.

Following halftime, the drumline breaks off to spend the third quarter in the student section. In this area of the stadium, they can be heard better by the students to pump them up, as well as be closer to the poms and cheer teams, who dance to the memorized cadences.

"The drum feature is my favorite part ofaperforming at halftime because it's the one time drumline can really showcase what we're capable of and what we've been working on in rehearsal," said junior Brandon Tang (pictured above, left).
Kayla Fiore
“The drum feature is my favorite part of performing at halftime because it’s the one time drumline can really showcase what we’re capable of and what we’ve been working on in rehearsal,” said junior Brandon Tang (pictured above, left).

“We talk with the student section, and try to get [them] involved, also, with the drumline because it’s fun to see somebody in uniform —  a different kind, the marching uniform — but also getting the students involved and the poms involved too,” drum captain Eva Mattioli said.

Mr. Gohr explained that his favorite part of game day — and one of the most important aspects to the Marching Wildcats — is the community dynamic that the high school displays at games.

“A lot of times, you know, football worries about football’s thing, and band worries about band’s thing, and cheer worries about cheer’s thing — and game day is one time we can all kind of bring that all together.”


Friday Night Leaps

From their position of the track, the poms team entertains both the parents and the student section throughout the course of a football game.

To begin the night, the team starts in front of the press box to perform their pregame dances in front of the parents while the football team warms up on the field. Then, each quarter, they rotate with the cheer team on the track between the parents’ stands and the student section.


H“I love doing pregame in front of the press box for the parents just to do little side entertainment while the guys are warming up, and I also love being in front of the
student section,” senior varsity captain Nikki Westphal said. “Even though I can’t actually be in the student section, being able to perform for my peers is super fun, and it makes me feel like I’m included in the student section, too.”



The varsity poms team finished their halftime routine by spelling out LHS.
Kayla Fiore
The varsity poms team finished their halftime routine by spelling out LHS.

Westphal is one of three captains for the varsity team. She is joined by seniors Kristen Luce and Emily Yates (who is also on Drops of Ink). This trio, having danced together

on varsity for three years, better understands their teammates’ personalities and skills from their experiences together. This helps them clean up the team’s motions and skills, provide insight to their first-year head coach, Casey Dugan, and bring the team together as a family.

“We’re close with every single person on the team by the end of the year,” Luce explained. “It’s also kind of fun to see how we start off in the beginning as a team and how we dance — because joining and bringing new people together we don’t always dance the same way — but then at the end, like last year at state, it was cool to see how we all danced the exact same way and how we come together.”

The team enjoys the season and their Friday nights in the stadium, feeling the energy produced by the team and enthusiasm from the crowd.

As a coach, the atmosphere at an LHS football [game] is unparalleled,” Coach Dugan commented. “It is a great experience watching my athletes perform, interact with the crowd and support the football team.”


Loyal and True

One of the aspects of Libertyville football games that carries the most tradition and passion is the student section. Nicknamed “The Jungle,” the student section gives students an opportunity to express their support for their team and enjoy themselves in a unique atmosphere. The student section was visually and audibly stronger than in years’ past at the opening game versus Elk Grove thanks to a new advertising campaign and more commitment from LHS students.

student-sectionKayla Fiore

The student section was very active and engaged throughout the game. Signs of various football players’ faces were visible in the crowd, along with beach balls and fans banging drums. The Jungle was in full effect: fans were decked out in all-camo clothing and paint. 2015 marks the first year that freshmen are encouraged to join the stands with the upperclassmen, which resulted in the stands being jam-packed.

Social media has also played a big part in the student section’s rising support.  Senior Timmy Ryan, who is one of a few students who manage the @LHSRagePit Twitter account, explained that Twitter has been an instrumental tool in promoting Libertyville spirit: “Social media has helped the student section immensely; spreading news and recruiting students is made that much easier because the information is just a few clicks away.” The account is intended to represent the school’s student section, actively tweeting reminders and news of upcoming themes and events.

Student Council has been very active in promoting the “spirit pack,” which includes five themed t-shirts and accessories intended for students to wear at not only football games, but other sporting events later in the school year. Ryan mentioned that the spirit packs “were a big hit” and that “even those who didn’t buy them still showed out with great school spirit.”


Spirit in the Air

Found on either the track or in the air, the LHS cheerleading team has had an integral role for many years. Whether in front of parents or students, the cheerleaders’ job is to rally the crowd and perform stunts and tumbling to entertain the fans.

First-year head coach Erin Vance believes that the cheer team helps add to the gameday atmosphere: “The cheerleaders’ role at the football games is to do what they were created for:  help lead the crowd in cheering on the team throughout the game.”

Hours before the football players take the field, the cheerleaders arrive to practice their routines. When the guys begin their warm-up on the field, the cheer team shifts into pre-game mode, which is intended to entertain and engage the fans. After the national anthem is played, the cheerleaders, joined by the poms team, form a tunnel for the football team to run through and accompany them towards the part of the track next to the student section, where they remain for half of the game.

“My favorite part about football games is being down on the field, so close to all the action,” senior captain Kenzie Cook explained. “The student section loves to be loud and intimidating to the opposing team’s student section, and it hypes not only the players up, but the cheerleaders, as well.”

Cook is one of three captains. She is joined by senior Hannah Boufford (also on Drops of Ink; while she co-wrote the article, she did not write this section on the cheerleaders) and junior Allison Nelson. The girls work together to improve communication between the team and coaches, as well as keep their team motivated throughout the two-season sport.

According to Nelson and Coach Vance, the energy of the stadium during the game is what makes Fridays so memorable. The crowd’s energy fuels the cheerleaders and vice versa.

“Everyone is excited to be there and the student section always goes full out to support our football players! Friday nights are truly an amazing experience and being able to be on the track in front of all the fans is incredible,” Nelson said.

The varsity cheerleaders perform the fight song after an LHS touchdown at Zion-Benton.
Photo courtesy of Erin Vance
The varsity cheerleaders perform the fight song after an LHS touchdown at Zion-Benton.

Drops of Ink • Copyright 2024 • FLEX WordPress Theme by SNOLog in

Comments (0)

Drops of Ink intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks, or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous. Comments are reviewed and must be approved by a moderator to ensure that they meet these standards. Drops of Ink does not allow anonymous comments, and we require a valid email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments.
All Drops of Ink Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *