Boys soccer coach Mike Schade knew the Jan. 23 home game against La Habra High School would be an important one as a win could boost his team’s chances of taking the Freeway League title. So he organized an outdoor barbecue during the game, hoping the free bratwurst for Sunny Hills staff and free hot dogs for students would bring out the home crowd to cheer his players on.

Schade was also able to recruit the ASB to help out with the cooking so he can focus on his coaching duties on the sidelines. Though the soccer team lost 2-1, his efforts deserve praise and should be something other athletic coaches should consider doing if they want to see more Lancers to cheer their teams on.

Sports fans know about the importance of home field advantage. And according to news.gallup.com, football and basketball are America’s favorites sports to attend and watch. That explains why most high school athletics programs, Sunny Hills included, invest so much of their time and effort to promote their games, such as with ASB-designed posters plastered around campus and cheerleaders, marching bands and the sale of food items at the game itself.

But what about other sports such as wrestling, tennis, golf, water polo, swim, track and field, baseball and softball? What can be done to get more fan support at these sporting events?

The ASB-purchased jumbotron constantly promotes dates and times for these games, matches or meets, and so the student body should consider taking time out to look at what’s being broadcast before school or during break or lunch. Several coaches deserve praise for sending video footage that highlight their athletes in action to the ASB to be displayed on the jumbotron. Sometimes, the ASB has generously contributed to design posters that they put up around campus to encourage students to attend games, matches or meets involving a rival school.

Principal Allen Whitten has been the biggest cheerleader for these “non-major” sports teams, making announcements during Period 2 whenever they have significant victories or have finished a successful season and are headed toward California Interscholastic Federation [CIF] playoffs. Girls water polo, for example, took the Freeway League title and reached CIF quarterfinals two years in a row, going undefeated for 17 straight games. Last year, softball finished in second place in the league, earning a CIF playoff berth. The boys tennis placed second in league last season as well.

Many may only want to go to certain sporting events because their friends are a part of the team performing or just because “everyone else is going.” But Lancers have to be supportive of all teams on campus regardless of whether or not they have a personal connection to the event.

For this to happen, it may have to start with more freebies like hot dogs. Each sport could take turns offering its own once-in-a-season barbecue for fans at tennis courts, cross country parks, golf courses or the recently remodeled pool. If a team doesn’t have the funds to pay for such meals, then money raised from ticket sales at football or basketball games could be distributed equally to the budget of these non-major sports, which don’t charge for admission.

The athletics program at Sunny Hills is extremely well-known throughout Orange County and is ranked in the Top 60 for athletics in Orange County, according to niche.com, a Pittsburgh-based website that provides school profiles based on data collected by scientists, engineers and parents. Students should definitely show pride for as many of the sports as are available on campus. Yes, we all have homework, and we all need to study for the two or three exams the next school day. But why not start slow and attend at least one swim meet or tennis match per semester? Who knows, we might find ourselves becoming new fans of the sport, and of the hot dogs.

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