Fans flock back to games to cheer on WCHS


Photo courtesy of @churchillk9 on Instagram

With the barring of fans from attending Winter sports games in January, scenes like this from a Fall football game were missed by fans and players alike.

By Ryan Weiner, Sports Editor

The day was Feb. 1. Fans poured in to see the Division Champion Varsity Boys Basketball Team play in a home match vs Blake High School. A few days later, they did it again for both the boys and girls teams as they played Clarksburg High School. Over the weekend, the wrestling team was able to have their first match with fans since the turn of the new year. These great events show the passion, dedication and love WCHS fans have for all of the teams. Yet, for quite some time moments like this could not happen. 

After Winter Break, MCPS announced that fans would no longer be able to attend games in person in order to ensure the safety of players, coaches and fans alike. Although the measures were created to responsibly handle the situation and were in good faith many student-athletes felt that something was missing from the game without people to cheer them on. 

“When you need that extra push, hearing people cheering from the bleachers and the bench helps remind you that you can’t let your team down,” Josh Heimlich, a junior on the Varsity Wrestling Team, said. 

While other students that pack the stadiums and fields to support their friends are often the first thing that comes to mind when fans are brought up, parents and other family members were among those affected as well. Family members can sometimes be the most impactful fans to student-athletes, as they are essentially personalized cheering sections. 

“Not having fans is also most definitely a bummer for our parents because they can’t be there to watch and cheer us on,” Heimlich said. “Our parents always want to see us do well, so they can definitely be some of the most impactful people in the crowd.”

Despite not having fans for so long, many teams tried to make the best of the situation. A lot of the games for winter sports teams were viewable through the National Federation of State High School Sports’ Network (NFHS), the streaming service used by WCHS athletics. Additionally, the lack of fans inspired many teams to cheer extra hard and build up their team spirit.

“We had our senior night without fans which was definitely a little bit sad, but we tried to make the most of it,” Heimlich said. “Everyone got a little more excited than they normally would to make up for the lack of noise.”

On a similar note, some teams viewed the lack of fans as a challenge that helped to build character and strength within their squads. Without fans, the home-field advantage goes away and forces teams to compete in a match between just them and the enemy. 

“Playing without fans was a challenge but was good for us as a team,” Wyatt Dunn, a junior on the Varsity Boys Basketball Team, said. “It helped us grow and show ourselves that we are a great team.”

As playoffs approach for WCHS’ winter teams, the return of fans to games will no doubt bring some much needed spirit into both the teams and the school. In fact, some athletes see this as a sign for fans to put even more effort into the student sections to help the Bulldogs win as many trophies as possible. 

“Playoffs coming soon doesn’t change much,” Dunn said. “All it means is that we need just as much, if not more support from the fans to help us make a run.”