First home football game in 16 months brings performances, spirit

Alice Chen, Editor-in-Chief

As the sun set and the flood lights beamed on Westview’s football field, Jade Bucci (12) readied herself for Dance Troupe’s first halftime performance in more than a year. Westview was neck-in-neck against Vista High School during their first home football game of the season, and Bucci knew their dance would be crucial for boosting school spirit. 

So the dancers smiled extra wide as the music started. The audience shouted extra loud to make up for their loss in volume. The cheerleaders waved extra hard, adjusting their routine to follow COVID safety guidelines. Though in many ways different than the last home game 16 months earlier, Westview’s football field lit up with the spirit of players, parents, performers, and more. 

Running back CJ Latimer (12) said he was grateful for the chance to play at Westview again. 

“[We] have that familiar feeling when we play on our home field,” Latimer said. “And the crowd being on our side plays a bigger role than people think.”

Bucci, a captain of Dance Troupe, said that the home game was a special opportunity for the dancers as well. During the pandemic, Bucci said, Dance Troupe recorded dances together to submit to competitions, but hadn’t been able to represent the school and help cheer on Westview’s sports teams like they normally do. 

“Being able to finally get out on the track during a football game has been the highlight of my senior year,” she said. “As a dancer you’re always performing to an audience, so even though there weren’t many people, it was nice to be there together and get the crowd going.”

According to Bucci, the preparation for dancing in competitions and dancing at sports games are very different, and adjusting to the football season’s new five-game schedule has been difficult. In order to prepare for both in a tight time frame, Bucci said, she and the other captains focused on specific goals for their football dance routines. 

“We really cater our dances and songs to what we think the students and the team would enjoy,” Bucci said. “In competitions it’s about showing our talents and styles, but at football games our dances are more about having fun and creating that spirit, togetherness, and pride in Wolverines.”

As a cheerleader, Sophia Righthouse (12) said she was also excited to support the football team through cheerleading again, after not being able to for so long. 

“It was really great seeing the motivation not only through the football players and parents, but also in the girls in cheer,” Righthouse said. “I know a lot of seniors can relate to the feeling of missing out on normal activities like games, trips, and just the overall senior experience, so it’s nice to have some normalcy again.”

The home game was also Westview’s senior night, where the athletic department recognized senior football players, dancers and cheerleaders. Although it usually takes place during the last home game of the season, what would normally be the seniors’ last home game of their high school career, this year it’s still uncertain whether Westview will host another game during the short season. 

Bucci said she felt the adjustment helped make sure Westview seniors got to keep their tradition. 

“We’ve been deprived of a lot of things that other classes have gotten, which is understandable given the circumstances, but it was still amazing to have that one thing sort of reminding us that we’re seniors,” Bucci said. “As a freshman I always looked forward to having that ‘one last hurrah,’ so even though it’s a little different this year, it was a fun experience.”

Miah Fernandez (12), who hadn’t attended a sports event since before the pandemic, was a member of the audience at the home game. Despite the COVID guidelines and the absence of the Black Hole, Fernandez said the game brought a unique opportunity that she won’t forget. 

“I’m not a huge football fan, but the energy is amazing at sports events,” Fernandez said. “I loved seeing my senior friends being recognized, and being able to watch my best friend cheer for the last time.”

The match ended in a 15-14 loss, but Latimer said he felt the game was an important experience nonetheless. 

“We fought really hard just to have a season this year,” he said. “And [Vista] was a good team [that gave us] a learning lesson we will take for the rest of the season and seasons to come.”

For Bucci, the pandemic-restricted year has only heightened her appreciation for dancing for an audience at football games. 

“This year has made me and the rest of the team a lot more grateful for every opportunity we get to be together,” Bucci said. “We are making the most of anything good this year, and that’s something I’ll remember 10 years down the road.”