Pack The Dome

A roar erupts from the stands as students plastered in school colors celebrate a big play. They have been waiting for this night all week long. This scene is a regular occurrence for many high schools throughout Seattle, but it is more dream than reality for University Prep students. 

Our school has a spirit problem, maybe not for basketball but for other sports. It is no secret either. Schoology is regularly flooded with people trying to encourage fans and ignite Puma pride without too much luck. This year, ASB made an attempt to get more students at the games by assigning grade points to the people that attend. But based on the games I have gone to, it didn’t change much. Our school has struggled with this issue for a while. In 2015 the Puma Press wrote a cover article titled “Our Problem With Pride.”

The words “school spirit” have started to lose meaning for most. Although some occasionally show up to the games, if you were to ask a student if they wanted to watch a UPrep sports game on a Friday night it would probably be met with a scoff. 

There are many factors contributing to this problem, some being out of the control of the students. One such factor is the reality of us being a small school, thus fewer people are going to show up to the games compared to a big school like Roosevelt. 

Another reason is that the standard Friday night sports game is football and UPrep does not offer that. Yet, other independent schools like Seattle Academy and Bush still manage to have a lot of fans at their recent games against us. Why can a school that is similar in size and offer a similar amount of sports have so many more fans at their games against UPrep? The answer seems to lie in school culture. 

Every year the UPrep varsity girls soccer team plays SAAS at Fall Mania. SAAS students migrate en masse to Starfire, where the stadium is full with red-and-black-covered fans echoing across the field. The occasional UPrep fan clump is seen but their cheers are swallowed up by the SAAS roar. The reason why so many SAAS fans showed up was the administration had organized a way for students to get there. 

When the teams played for a second time, it was on a Tuesday afternoon in Shoreline. This made it so less people could show up to the rematch and with not many fans to cheer, the Pumas lost. If the schools scheduled a few games on a Friday night or another time that is easy for fans to show up, the atmosphere would be a lot better, thus helping the UPrep win and gain school spirit. 

There were 140 Upper School students that played a fall sport. Those players have to practice and play games while other Pumas compete in games. This potentially takes a large chunk out of the possible fans that can attend the sporting events.

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For freshmen and other students that are not able to get transportation to the games, a bus that shuttles people could also be helpful. Doing this is harder than it sounds. According to Athletic Director Rebecca Moe, in addition to the school having a bus driver shortage, COVID-19 has made it more difficult to bus students to the games. 

The sports teams are not winning as well. During the fall, no team finished their season with a winning record. This creates a cycle of less fans going to the game, which can impact how well the teams play. To jumpstart a successful sports season, more students need to show up. 

In order to have a lot of fans attending the games, the athletic department should transport students to games after restrictions are over. This may have to wait until after the pandemic. Students can also start wearing more school colors on big game days. There is currently an effort for change led by a group of students so hope is not all lost. An instagram account called pumapowerhouse is trying to promote school spirit. It has helped to spread information about when and where the games are as well as lighting a spark of puma spirit.

I believe that the students have the potential and enthusiasm to create a great atmosphere at the school, but in order to ignite it, all of the students need to collectively show up.