Student News Site of Hinsdale South High School

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Student News Site of Hinsdale South High School

Stinger

Student News Site of Hinsdale South High School

Stinger

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What Makes Friday Night Lights So Bright?

Langston+Love+catches+a+pass.
Sophia Schiappa
Langston Love catches a pass.

From the football players lined up on the field, to the cheerleaders’ pom-poms high in the air, to danceline’s quick routine run-throughs, and marching band’s tuning of their instruments, Friday Night Lights, a high school staple, is defined by the many moving parts that make up a very bright, and very loud, football game.

While South’s football team plays in high school stadiums spanning the Chicagoland area, there’s no place like home. Home games are the backbone of FNLs, attesting not only to the talent of the players, but to the talents of danceline, the cheer team, the marching band, and the support radiating off the crowd. So in the eyes of the athletes and performers, home games are integral to the high school experience.

“For home games, you know your field.” Said captain and senior Sam Schuyler, wide receiver and safety, in reference to practicality, “In away games, you have to take into consideration the different crowd, the different field material…all those things.”

Different conditions can play a role in the performance of the football team, such as turf or grass, or the brightness of the lights, making a home game an advantage. But to the players, the significance of a home game goes farther than that: it’s in the stands.

“My favorite part about playing a home game is the crowd.” Schuyler said, “You have all your friends in the stands, people you know, and your family. When playing an away game, you just don’t have that. You don’t have people you know out there watching you.”

Senior captain Nathaniel Fundator, wide receiver and safety, shared the same point of view.

“There’s more friends, and more of my family at a home game.” Fundator remarked, “Seeing them in the crowd is obviously a little more nerve-wracking, but it’s more fun and helps me not only prepare better, but just seeing them there helps me play better.” 

Fundator deals with the nerves before a game by meditating, settling himself into the game mindset before he takes the field. 

“I have superstitions as to how I put my pads on and how I tie my shoes.” Fundator said, “I do it the same way each time, and it helps me prepare mentally for the game.”

Yet, game days at home require massive amounts of preparation from not just the football players, but also the performers.

Senior Reese Baughman has been dancing since she was four and joined South’s danceline her freshman year after her friends convinced her. While dancing at her company is more competitive, Baughman found danceline at South a great way to get involved with school spirit, especially with the halftime performances at football games.

“To prepare, we usually have practice three hours a day, Monday through Friday at school.” Baughman said, “Together, junior varsity and varsity do team warm ups, and then we split and clean up our dances, top to bottom.”

“I’ve done ballet my whole life but pom is a totally different world.” Junior Melanie Hochnadal said, “Ballet is much more lyrical and has much more technique in it, while pom relies on sharp arm movements and hitting a lot of poses.”

While Baughman and Hochnadal dance outside of school, both dancers say that their experience with danceline at South is unique to dancing at companies, especially with halftime performances with the stands cheering them on.

“The hype, with the student section, is so much fun.” Hochnadal said, “It’s not like when you perform at competitions…the student section is cheering you on. I just love to dance, and the adrenaline rush at halftime is amazing.”

“The school spirit is just so good.” Added Baughman. “We usually dress up for every football game, doing the theme with them the best we can while having our south uniforms on.”

The excitement home games have on danceline, both with preparation and with execution, is also shared with the cheer team.

Cheerleader Sammy Salvino, senior, has been cheering since 4th grade, and emphasizes the work that goes into preparing for a home game.  

“For away games we don’t do a half time routine, so there’s definitely more that we think about for home games to prepare.” Salvino stated, “We try to make a new routine for every home game because they are spaced out well enough. The week of an away game, we start ahead of time preparing a routine for a home game, but it’s usually more working on skills.” 

The cheerleaders practice from 3:30-5:45 Monday through Friday, where they work on their halftime routines and brush up on their stunting. 

Salvino says one of her favorite parts of cheerleading at a home game is being able to interact with the crowd to hype up the football team.

“Usually around the 3rd quarter we do the Y-E-L-L cheer, which is interactive with the student section, and overall a lot of fun to do.”

Friday Night Lights aren’t complete without the final piece: the marching band.

Senior Josh Byrd, who is a Drum Major during the marching band season, has been in band for the last nine years, and has seen how much attention to detail is imperative to pull off a home game.

“During the summer, there’s a week-long summer camp, from 8am-8pm, that gives us a head start on learning the material for the show, such as drill, marching, technique, and music.” Byrd said.

Ahead of a home game, the band meets up Wednesday nights to do a full run through of the performance. On Fridays, around two hours before the game starts, the band does the complete show on the practice field, ensuring that it runs smoothly.

The evening of Friday the 15th, football, danceline, cheer, and band take the field for the annual homecoming game, the most imperative of home games.

“Everyone’s going to be there.” Schuyler said, “You have players who’ve played on the team in the past, people who’ve graduated, and of course, friends and family. My favorite part of football at South is having my friends I’ve grown up with be my teammates, which is very important to me. So being able to experience the tradition of the homecoming game with them means a lot.” 

 Fundator echoed Schuyler’s sentiment, adding that the bond between his teammates makes the game far more fun.  

“The homecoming game is a tradition.” Fundator said, “I enjoy it specifically because it’s a legacy game for all the others who have played at South, making it really special to play in that game.”

The homecoming game holds sentimental weight to the performers as well as the players. 

“There’s definitely more spirit, and it’s a lot more fun because everyone is there.” Salvino shared, “There’s good energy, and it’s more fun to do routines at the homecoming game because of the significance.”

“My favorite part about performing during the homecoming halftime show is creating a great musical art piece and showing it off to the parents and the students of South.” Byrd remarked.

“I love seeing the reaction from the audience and seeing the work get paid off through our performance.” Said Junior band member, Sammy Aylward, “I love when people appreciate it as much as us, especially for homecoming, as it gets super hype especially with our pep band. We have so much fun, especially when the audience gets involved, the energy is so high.”

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About the Contributors
Layan Al-Khaled
Layan Al-Khaled, News Editor
Layan Al-Khaled is a Senior at South, and is the News Editor for Stinger. With her love for writing, reading, and research, she was inspired to join Stinger. Layan is a vital member of Hinsdale South's Girls JV Tennis team and Model UN. She is able to speak in four languages: English, Arabic, French, and Spanish!
Sophia Schiappa
Sophia Schiappa, Photography Editor
Senior Sophia Schiappa is the Photography Editor and is in her third year on Stinger. She is a member of Girls’ Varsity Volleyball Team and also contributes to the yearbook, Vespa, at Hinsdale South. When home, she enjoys listening to music and playing with her dogs.

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