EL faces challenges regarding safety and hostility against rivaling schools
It all started with a social media post.
This quickly escalated to heated exchanges between EL fans and opposing teams, prompting Principal Deb Kelly to deliver a schoolwide message about appropriate fan behavior and expectations.
These exchanges between schools reached a climax that night with fans from Norwich and Waterford surrounding the EL cheerleaders’ bus, pounding on windows.
Cheerleading coach Hannah Taylor followed by telling players they can no longer leave the field at halftime out of concern for safety.
Other ECC administrators also took action to ensure student safety.
The Viking Valley is a passionate student section which regularly shows support for EL players, especially when facing rival Lancer Nation of Waterford.
This year, administration thinks this enthusiasm has gone too far. Viking Valley has been accused of participating in disrespectful chants, name calling, and general rudeness towards opposing teams.
Athletic Director Steve Hargis says this is “unacceptable behavior” and “significantly worse than previous years.”
“I don’t want this ‘valley’ name to be something that we stand by or live behind no matter what,” said Mr. Hargis. He says that at the end of the day, it truly is just a game.
“It’s a big adjustment for students to get back into a crowd this big,” said Assistant Principal Henry Kydd. “They’re simply making up for lost time, but we still need to be respectful.”
Mr. Kydd and Mr. Hargis both say that the issue is more of the “mob mentality” throughout the Viking Valley that can then lead to the inappropriate behavior.
“I don’t ever want another school to have a bad experience here, because then it reflects poorly on our school as a whole,” said Mr. Kydd.
It’s clear that EL isn’t the only town affected by this behavior, which partly stems from the lack of the 2020 football season. Students in the stands like senior Jack Walsh see this first hand.
“I don’t think that fan participation is wilder this year than in the past. I do, however, think that given this is the first opportunity for fans to get involved for about a year and a half, it has taken away some perspective of the past student sections,” Walsh said.
The crowd may be headed in the right direction. Mr. Hargis noted that he’s observed more positive cheering and student leaders setting good examples for their peers.
If this negativity were to continue or increase, consequences could arise such as limiting spectators or putting more restrictions on the games.