South athletes take a different route while riding the bench

Sophie Vick, co-sports editor

Towel whipping, fist pumping, loud cheering, feet stomping. The 2017-2018 women’s basketball team’s sideline bench is rowdy. Passes between teammates are accompanied by the background noise of bench cheers. If you went to a women’s basketball game this past season, chances are you’ve seen and heard this all.

Being a sports editor for the Oracle for the past two years, I think it’s safe to say I’ve attended a range of different sporting events here at South. The most memorable games being ones where the entire team was excited with what was happening on the court or field or whatever it may have been. Watching the players on the bench put on a “performance” of some sorts, really would keep the crowd engaged while also boosting the energy of those actually playing. The animation from players on the bench is what kept me and most of the crowd on the edge of their seats.

Last year, I went to a football game right after I went to a girl’s volleyball game and I saw a huge difference. Going from watching a game with people on the bench visibly excited for their teammates to a game where the sideline was anything but thrilling was a disappointment to say the least.     

Women’s basketball 2017-2018 senior captain Halle Smith believes a loud sideline of players is a key component to keeping players’ spirits high. Smith admits that without players on the bench, morale on the court would be low and games would be less entertaining for everyone.

“We do [the cheers] for our bench and to make it more fun for us, but to also hype up the players and to keep the motivation up and show support.” Smith said.

Similarly to Smith, women’s volleyball 2017-2018 senior captain Cat Berg understands that being a bench player is a huge part of keeping her team’s spirits high. According to Berg, even when things aren’t going their team’s way on the court, the cheers from the bench helped keep smiles on everyone’s faces.

After hearing these positive perspectives on being a bench player, I started to think back on my short-lived Glenbrook South athletic career. As a sophomore on the Junior Varsity B field hockey team, I was plagued by that oh so common negative outlook of not playing. I pushed myself to play a game that I honestly hated, but did it because it was a way to get involved. After seeing and hearing these team cheers, I know I would have had a much more enjoyable experience if these cheers were implemented in all levels of play. Players keeping the bench warm are arguably the back-bone of the team, which I know is cliche, yet so true.

Berg believes so strongly about keeping a “rowdy” bench that she even wrote her college Common Application essay on the topic.

“I basically talked about how throughout my junior year I was a bench player for lacrosse and volleyball but I turned it into a positive thing,” Berg said. “I turned the negative connotation of being a bench player completely around by knowing that just because I was on the bench didn’t mean I didn’t have a huge role on the team.”

Personally, after seeing all the cheers from the basketball and volleyball teams, I couldn’t believe how well they executed the different routines. They were funny and got the job done.

Between the two teams, players have a different array of cheers to choose from to hype up their fellow athletes. According to Berg, the women’s lacrosse team kept their cheers organized by a list taped on their sticks.

“We would tape sheets of paper on our sticks, one for our plays and one for our bench cheers,” Berg said. “Each [cheer] had a number… so after a big point was made, we would scream out a number and we would do that cheer. The entire bench still felt important because we had our own calls, like the people on the field did.”

Without these cheers both Smith and Berg agree that their teams would lose their drive to keep going when the score is rough. Smith really believes a lot of the fun of being on the team would be lost if these cheers weren’t a thing.

“I know the players love it when we do it and it makes them feel good about themselves and gives them confidence so I think without [the cheers] it would change the whole aspect of our game.”