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The City Journals

‘These are our friends; these are our teams’ – Cottonwood, Hillcrest fans back their programs through difficult seasons

Nov 04, 2019 03:38PM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

An email from an unfamiliar name came across Cottonwood High Principal Terri Roylance’s computer. She clicked it open and was read:

“I was at the game Friday night and wanted to tell you how impressed I was with your student body at the game!! I know it’s been a tough season for your team, but the student section was awesome!! They were upbeat, loud and motivating while cheering for your great boys on the field!! It’s difficult to keep the energy up when you are getting beat; but your students and cheerleaders have fabulous school spirit. Your band is very talented and the game announcer was also very good!! I just wanted to pass along to you that many of us parents were very impressed with your Cottonwood students at the game!! I wish your football team the best of luck this season!!”

“It was from a parent from the opposing team last Friday who had attended our home game,” Roylance said. “We lost; we have not won a game all season. But she wrote how impressed she was with our school, our spirit, our students kept cheering, our band playing, our team trying. Sometimes when kids start losing, they lose all grace and play dirty, not our kids. They play clean, they’re respectful of the officials, they play competitively until the end of the game.”

And even afterward, she said as students often bring a box of plastic gloves and sacks and then, they stay after to help clean the stands at home — and at opposing games.

Cottonwood lost to Highland, 0-63. Their record this season, at press deadline, was 0-9.

Nearby Hillcrest High students can sympathize with their loss, having been hopeful at half in their game against Highland when the score was 17-21, before Highland scored 20 consecutive points to close out the game, 17-41. Hillcrest’s only win this season was against 3A Providence Hall.

“When our kids are on the field or court, we put forth the effort to battle to do better, score more points, succeed over them,” Hillcrest band director Austin Hilla said. “When our peers put forth that effort, we put in the time and work alongside them that compounds their effort to mirror the team. Our motto is ‘every rep, every rehearsal, every performance.’ We’re going to put forth that effort to make it better than before. It’s our culture to do it right, to get it done. If you win or lose, you go to play to support the team, no matter what.” 

Earlier this season, the two schools met in girls’ soccer and ended up tying 1-1. 

“We had so many shots on goal, but we were so thankful when we scored, we walked away feeling as if we won,” said one Hillcrest parent, adding that when the Huskies scored a goal against region rival Brighton in the next game, “the girls celebrated as if they won the game.”

Brighton students also support their victorious teams, but unlike these two neighboring schools, the Bengals have achieved a feat unmatched by any other high school in Utah: 120 team state championship titles in 50 years.

Not to take anything away from Brighton or other schools with champion teams, but Roylance said that generally it takes more to cheer for teams who aren’t victorious.

“It’s easier to cheer for a winning team than for ones who struggle, but our kids are always there. It can get discouraging to have a tough season, but against Highland, our kids were as loud and had as much fun in the first quarters as the last,” she said. “Our kids are really good kids. They are driven and want to come out and support, these are amongst the best students and leaders I’ve ever seen.”

Cottonwood High pep band, under the direction of Amber Tuckness, performs at the games, pumping up the Colts. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

 

Hillcrest High’s student body adviser Shannon Hurst said it’s the Husky culture to be involved.

“It’s tradition to be involved, no matter the scoreboard or performance,” she said. “It’s what makes the high school experience. Our SBOs (student body officers) do a good job. Whether or not we’re winning, they stay positive and I feel like our crowds are bigger. Our fans are good. We’re unified in the love and support of the people there. Our students are providing that energy and cheering to help, whether it’s yelling at a cross country meet or a moment in a burst of play on the basketball court.”

Senior Kate Timmerman is Hillcrest’s student body president.

“These are our friends; these are our teams and we support them,” she said. “When you’re a student-athlete, you can tell, no matter the score, that our fans are constantly cheering.”

Timmerman knows it firsthand as a four-year member of the Hillcrest soccer team.

“It’s super hard. We play teams twice and it’s not fun losing all the time. But we see our potential and how far we’ve come and approach everything with a positive attitude. It unifies our school. We’re proud of who we are, whether its academics, soccer, musical performances. We support everyone and are proud to be Huskies,” she said.

In fact, both schools have award-winning performance arts departments and their robotics teams both competed at world competition in their rookie seasons and enjoy success in other programs.

Hilla said the music program helps with school spirit.

“The music can pump them up. We have pieces and cadences for the offense or defense. We want to be there to help create the atmosphere, the energy, through music,” he said. “Regardless if we win or lose, the band is there no matter what.”

He said that helps create a Husky culture of closeness and support.

“We’re born into our family, but as we get older, we choose another sort of family, one that is supportive of each other. Our school spirit, our community, our student body cares about what we’re doing. Our kids want to be good, positive, helpful, help make the world better — and we can see what our positive impact is and how it unifies us,” Hilla said.

School leaders at both schools boost spirit through tossing school gear in the stands, create promotion nights such as a chalk fight and tailgate party at Hillcrest or face paint and games with pizza at Cottonwood, and even dress-up for themed nights at the games.

“Our kids come to the game and have a lot of fun with them,” Roylance said about the Colt fans. “We just had fluorescent theme and it’s just fun to see what they come up with every week. And each month, the peer leader group sets themes for the year and goals for each month, helping our students be positive and the best they can.”

Cottonwood Peer Leadership Team president and senior Angela Black sets a goal to make friends and make everyone feel welcome.

“Our school spirit is amazing, whether or not our teams are great,” she said. “It matters that we’re all trying and doing our best. You can’t do good unless you have someone behind you so that’s our job, we have to be sure to be the ones behind them.”