Singing of Sunny Hills alma mater spreads to sports teams

Members+of+the+girls+volleyball+team+band+together+while+singing+the+school%27s+alma+mater+following+their+final+home+Freeway+League+game+Oct.+14+against+Fullerton.+Photo+taken+by+Accolade+photographer+Paul+Yasutake

Members of the girls volleyball team band together while singing the school's alma mater following their final home Freeway League game Oct. 14 against Fullerton. Photo taken by Accolade photographer Paul Yasutake

Hope Li

Hail to alma mater, loyally we stand.

Keep our sons and daughters famed throughout the land.

Go forth to lead our country, strong let our motto be.

Alma mater Sunny Hills, hail to thee.

This is Sunny Hills’ alma mater. Although it is not well-known, junior Jenna Beining has spearheaded a movement to resurrect its popularity.

Beining, the ASB athletics commissioner and a varsity girls volleyball player, has already gotten the football and volleyball teams and Sunny Hills students in the audience to sing it at the end of their home games or matches.

Previously, the Lancer Regiment only played the alma mater at football games, but Beining was inspired by a pre-season game where opposing players and the audience sang their alma mater after a game.

“I really liked the school spirit that it brought, so I wanted to do the same thing at our school,” she said. “It was a super cool way to celebrate and show a sense of school unity at sports events [especially since] the audience [was] excited when they sang it because they had just won.”

The senior first saw the alma mater painted on the gym walls at her older sister Melissa Beining’s 2015 and 2016 volleyball games, but the gym did not repaint it after its remodel in 2017.

So when she attended this year’s ASB summer meeting, she introduced the idea of singing the Lancer school song to her ASB peers and later met with athletics director Jon Caffrey and principal Allen Whitten about bringing back the alma mater to the gym.

“[Beining] said, ‘Hey, you remodeled the gym, but you took down the alma mater,’ ” Whitten said. “And I said, ‘Hey, you’re right. If you’d like to put it back up, why don’t you design it, and I’ll connect you with a painter, and we’ll paint it back up there.”

By September, the alma mater was painted in the back wall of the gym on the opposite side of the entrance. With the help of her parents, who are Sunny Hills alumni, Beining figured out how to sing the words and eventually taught the ASB how it goes and then her volleyball teammates, she said.

She then pitched her idea of her team singing it after each home game to girls volleyball head coach Amanda Donaldson, who was more than willing to give it a try.

“I never knew my own high school’s alma mater so I was certainly interested where this whole alma mater singing stemmed from,” Donaldson said. “I think it’s neat … and the girls even put a little twist on the way we sing it, which is really cool and makes it very volleyball individualized.”

Lancers at football games have also adopted the loud twist at the end.

“When it gets to the ‘Sunny Hills’ part of the song, they go out of tune and yell ‘Sunny Hills’ at the top of their lungs in a specific chantlike way,” Donaldson said of the twist. “It makes it unique and gives it more hype than just the slow, swaying melody.”

The girls soccer team also sings, but the Lady Lancers do so before their games — yet it’s not the alma mater.

Girls soccer head coach Jeff Gordon calls it the “Team Cheer,” which started in 2005 when his players won their first CIF championship.

Gordon said his players had watched a movie called, “Remember the Titans,” and one scene included a chant about how “we are the TItans.” But the girls changed it to ‘everywhere we go, people want to know who we are, so we tell them, we are the Lancers, the mighty mighty Lancers.’ ”

“We copied that movie scene and have made it ours ever since,” the coach said. “We sing it so loud [that] the opponent can hear us coming.”

For boys soccer, head coach Mike Schade does include the alma mater in his team’s tradition, but the focus is more on his players’ entrance to the field.

“When we enter another school’s facility, we always walk in two by two … dressed identical, so if one person has a backpack, everyone on the team has a backpack,” Schade said. “We get off at the bus that way; we enter other stadiums that way [and] during our walk to the field, we always stress the why.”

The players understand the “why” every time the coach has them recite the alma mater on the field.

“It’s just something that we’ve done because I wanted to find a way to connect our players to the fact that they were representing Sunny Hills High School at a sporting event,” he said. “I’m trying to give an understanding that we’re representing Sunny Hills, so that’s why we have done it so much over the years.”

Schade’s tradition has lasted 10 years so far, but he wants the program to include singing the alma mater now that volleyball has incorporated it.

The basketball teams’ regular routine is usually found on the free throw line during games, instead of the other sports that have their traditions before or after.

“It’s always been a tradition that every time someone goes to the free throw line, the fans will put their hands up in a two,” girls basketball head coach Jae Byun said. “And if it goes in, they [say] ‘swoosh.’ ”

After hearing about the volleyball team incorporating the alma mater, Byun is open to adopting it for a future post-game routine.

“I think that’s kind of a cool tradition to start,” he said. “I think we would like to do that [if] the opportunity comes up.”

Beining hopes her passion about improving school spirit through the singing of the alma mater will become infectious, especially as the winter sports season kicks off.

“I’m definitely really happy about what’s come of it so far and can’t wait to see where it goes from here,” she said.