CHEERING FOR THE BIG LAKE HORNETS is greatly encouraged but the MSHSL does not permit noise makers such as cowbells and sirens, or singling out particular players. (Archive photo by Ken Francis).

To cheer or not to cheer?

Staff Writer
Jennifer Edwards


Fall sports are well underway and Big Lake students are eager to cheer their friends on. But is their cheering always welcome and appropriate?
At last week’s schools board meeting, parent Tammy Anthoney said students were being discouraged from cheering at last Monday’s home varsity volleyball game versus the Becker Bulldogs.
School board members, most of whom have children involved in school sports, disagreed, saying cheering was encouraged.
The subject has been the topic of much debate recently on at least one social network site.
“This doesn’t do much to promote school spirit,” said Anthoney, whose son graduated from BLHS last year.
“This is not the case for the board or for the administration,” said Board Chair Tim Hayes. “I have never heard this before. Students are not allowed to make inappropriate comments about the other team but we encourage children to cheer.”
“Another employee from the school told them they were too loud and they had to sit down,” said Anthoney, who was sitting behind them at the game. “And I didn’t hear any inconsiderate comments.”
Board Member Dan Nygaard said he was also at the volleyball game with his daughter and nothing was said to her about not cheering. 
“We encourage school spirit and cheering,” he said.
Board member Tom Pietrzak blamed social media for the controversy, saying he was still hoarse from cheering the Hornets on. His daughter, Lauren, is a member of the swimming and diving team.
“That is the downfall of it,” he said. “One incident can breed a lot of contention and things get blown out of proportion.”
“The student body is very well-behaved,” said Activities Director Brad Schnitzler. 
“There was one incident from the other end of the gym where one person was calling out a particular girl’s name,” he said. “I asked him not to do that. He was cheering for her.”
In a volleyball game, the entire floor belongs to the players, Schnitzler said. 
“Sometimes when people stand up to cheer, they start encroaching on the playing area. Those girls are entitled to the floor, so they may have been encouraged to sit down.”
“I cheer all the time,” said Board Member Amber Sixberry.
“The bottom line is we do promote cheering,” said Board Member Mark Hedstrom, whose son, Nathan, plays football. “But the Mississippi 8 Conference and the Minnesota State High School League do have some rules about it.”
One of the rules is that noisemakers, such as sirens and cowbells are not permitted.
“Sportsmanship is always on the agenda,”
 said Schnitzler. “And when we set up the Mississippi 8 Conference the students had a lot of input into what was appropriate cheering and what was not.”
“I am proud of our students for cheering everyone on,” said Pietrzak.
“We want as many kids as we can get cheering people on,” said Hedstrom.
“We held our first pep fest,” said High School Principal Bob Dockendorf. “And I just heard the best singing of our school song ever. There has been a lot enthusiasm.”
“Social media kind of takes on a life of its own,” said Nygaard. “If that was all I knew, I would be convinced our school was against cheering.”
“We encourage sportsmanship from the ground up,” said Sixberry. “And that includes social media.”


BIG LAKE COBORN’S STAFF have been raising funds for the Big Lake Fire Dept. through brat sales and the sale of buttons. Last week Coborns’s staff posed for a picture by the grill. Front row are Vicki Sabre and Kitty Underwood. Back row is Ashley Pelkey, Amy Fiester, Manager Mitch Utecht, Melissa Schafer, Michelle Galvin, Matt Schacht, Curt Allgood and John Howard. (Photo by Jennifer Edwards).

MEMBERS OF THE Big Lake American Legion flag corps, at attention during Monday’s Memorial Day services. From left, Dennis Gail, Don McVeigh, Don Deuel and Gary Poslusny. (Photos by Gary W. Meyer)

Larry and Lavina Pattee