“Hank the Tank! Hank the Tank!” the fans roar from the sidelines during a Fairmont Boys’ Varsity Basketball game. The fans’ intensity is aimed at matching the intensity of Head Coach Hank Bias, who’s been known to get a little worked up during a game.
Getting worked up also describes the Firebird fans these days as students are bringing spirit back to Fairmont sporting events. With catchy cheers and faces painted blue, Spirit Club is filling the stands at both Trent Arena and opposing teams’ gyms.
Why does Fairmont have spirit fever all of a sudden? Two seniors were unhappy with the weakness of the student sections at games and decided to do something about it. Those two students are seniors Anthony Ganz-Sarto and Margeaux Leakas, the co-presidents of Spirit Club.
Spirit Club was a club that faded in 2007, so Leakas and a few of her friends decided it was time to bring it back. “I felt like the spirit around school was decreasing a lot over my four years,” said Leakas. “And being a senior, I knew I could do something about it.”
She had to present her plan to Principal Dan Von Handorf and Athletic Director Brian Donoher. “They loved the idea and have supported me through it all,” said Leakas.
By painting up before big games and chanting cheers loudly, students are getting pumped. “Our goal is to always have a better student section than the other team,” said Ganz-Sarto. “And so far, no school has out-cheered us.”
Just show up and show spirit
The unique thing about Spirit Club is that anyone can be a part of it. There are no sign-ups; people just need to come to the games ready to cheer. Leakas and Ganz-Sarto strongly encourage everyone to come to games. “Just come out and support. We would love to see your face in the crowd,” said Leakas.
The duo comes up with themes, events and cheers to motivate people. “We try to have indoor tailgates before the bigger games,” said Ganz-Sarto. During these tailgates they paint up and think of cheers that can get the opposing team worked up. They even get spirit buses for big away games.
The students are going above and beyond the traditional spirit ideas. Along with white-outs, they come up with other themes. For the Varsity Girls’ Basketball Senior Night against Beavercreek, Spirit Club participants dressed up in business casual clothing. “We dressed in business attire because we wanted to show ‘Creek that we meant business,” said Ganz-Sarto.
With all of these unique ideas, games are becoming more than just a social gathering for teens. The excitement created by Spirit Club has attracted new faces in the crowd. “Anthony and I are like sidekicks in this,” said Leakas. “We’re always trying to think of ways to lure students to games and get them excited to be there.”
Attracting positive attention to Fairmont
With all the success and standout crowds, the club is catching some outsiders’ attention. Spirit Club’s events are seen by most of the community that attends the games. “Sporting events are showcases for our community,” said Donoher. “People are noticing our kids and saying great things about our support.”
Community members are impressed by the crowd’s spirit, and they especially appreciate that the students keep it positive. There is a fine line between what is an appropriate cheer and what is not. “Some schools get out of hand with what they say,” said Ganz-Sarto. “We don’t want to be known for stuff like that.” The cheers tend to be positive and are geared to motivate the Fairmont players.
Not all the credit can go to the students, though. The club needed a supervisor and math teacher Jeff Snider was eager to help. Donoher also does whatever he can to get as many students involved as he can. “Mr. Donoher has been so incredibly supportive,” said Leakas. “He donated ‘Kettering Krazies’ T-shirts to the club and helps to come up with ideas.”
The club has proven to be successful this year, but there is a lot of question as to whether or not the club will continue to thrive next year after Leakas and Ganz-Sarto graduate. The students and Donoher seem positive that Spirit Club is going to be around a while. “It will be better organized next year with more bus trips,” said Donoher.
The hope and purpose of the club is to give Fairmont a reputation for being a spirited school. “We may not be the best at sports, but we will always have tons of spirit,” said Leakas. “I know that the tradition will carry on for years to come.”