Nothing gets me excited like a loud and rowdy student section.
Groton-Dunstable girls’ basketball traveled to Worcester Polytechnic Institute to play in the Division 2 Central Mass Finals against Medfield, which is technically not a Central team. The Groton-Dunstable Super Fans brought the energy from the opening tip to the final buzzer.
It didn’t matter that the Crusaders lost by a hefty margin — the fans were there to do two things: have a good time and support their fellow classmates.
Student crowds have been amazing this winter season. Bromfield and Ayer Shirley, despite being the two smallest schools in the coverage area, brought the noise.
And, then there is the North Middlesex Trench, which is known for its elaborate themes and rowdy student section — Monday night at the Wallace Civic Center’s Gaetz Arena, the Patriot fans met their match.
Before the start of the third-period, both student sections had a sing off to Bon Jovi’s living on a prayer, and before that Journey’s “Don’t stop believing.” The Shrewsbury students whipped out their IPhones and swayed them back and forth with the flashlight showing to make a cool backdrop. North Middlesex soon followed suit as both sides of the old barn were filled with spectators from end-to-end.
From the first period faceoff, you would’ve sworn the lid was going to pop off off the old Gaetz Arena, but luckily it didn’t — It’s pretty chilly out there this time of year.
North Middlesex had the odds stacked completely against them having lost its previous meeting soundly, 4-0, at the hands of Shrewsbury only two weeks removed.
Head coach Mike McCarthy and the Patriots upped their training and preparation to a higher level, knowing that an okay game would not be good enough against a formidable Shrewsbury side.
North Middlesex came in with the number one seed, as its only loss came at the sticks of, who else?, Shrewsbury.
The fans from both sides, just like their respective teams were ready for all-out war. The only weapons needed were a healthy set of vocal chords and lots and lots of coffee and tea.
Rowdy student sections have a very special place in my heart because it takes me back to my college days at UNC Charlotte.
The screaming, the yelling until your voice no longer exists. That’s what being a dedicated fan is all about, and the area high school students get it.
While in college, my senior research paper was about what diehard fans get out of cheering so loudly for their team. Those people who do not like sports are missing out on a healthy outlet for stress release. Believe it or not, yelling until you’re blue in the face — or red with the help of face paint — is a very healthy and fun thing.
Now, some of the outfits North Middlesex students wore on Monday night were pure awesome. I remember at one point looking up into the North Middlesex student section, which is located directly behind the home bench and seeing senior three-sport athlete John Boutwell with his face completely covered in red paint and an American flag draped over his shoulders, Rocky Balboa style.
He had gold medals like the WWE wrestler Kurt Angle.
Now, that is taking school spirit to the next level.
And, then there were the students decked out in vintage North Middlesex gear. North Middlesex athletic director James Bunnell, prior to last season’s state final against Wahconah had a fire sale.
He decided to clear his office from all the old uniforms that were collecting dust and sell them to the students.
A brilliant plan.
Now, it is not uncommon to see vintage North Middlesex gear at games. My favorite of all being the Red, white and blue warm-up suits that look like something that the 1992 USA Olympic Basketball Dream Team would have worn.
While sports might not be some students’ cup of tea, they are what help keep the school going. Yes, there were probably a lot of late-slips Tuesday morning with the celebrations not wrapping up until about 10:30 p.m., but if you ask the students and teachers, it was all worth it.
North Middlesex won the Division 3 Central Mass. title, 2-1, Monday night over Shrewsbury.
The Patriots did it in Division 3A, but not many were sure what this team would do when faced with stiffer competition.
North Middlesex now has its sights set on contending for the Division 3 State Title. It all started Thursday night, when it traveled to Springfield to face Western Mass Champion Agawam at the MassMutual Center.
Rest assured, the Trench will be there … and, I hear they’re bringing some reinforcements.
This year has been one of the best postseasons for fan support that I have ever seen. Keep up the good work, your friends and coaches depend on it.
Follow Ed Niser on Twitter/Tout:@EdNiser