Trojan FANS Building a Community

Wissahickon’s students have turned being a fan into an extracurricular activity, creating one of the school’s fastest growing clubs called simply FANS Club. To view photos of Friday night’s ‘Silent Night’ FANS event, please visit the Photo Gallery in the BOYS BASKETBALL gallery by clicking on the photos below.

To view a video of of Friday's 'Silent Night' event, please click on the following link:  

By Mary Jane Souder

There are fans, and then there are FANS.

Wissahickon FANS, to be specific.

So organized are the Trojan fans that they’ve created their own club, and it’s called, appropriately, FANS Club. The club kicked off the 2012-13 boys’ basketball season on Friday night with a ‘fandatory’ event for the Trojans’ showdown against neighboring Upper Dublin called ‘Silent Night.’ It was, by all accounts, a smashing success.

“It was packed, it was awesome,” said junior Luke Gomez, president of FANS Club. “A lot of people who weren’t even in the club came out.

“I couldn’t give an exact number, but it was unreal. It was just great to be a part of.”

The plan – executed to perfection – was to remain silent until the Trojans scored their eighth point and then to make noise the remainder of the night.

And make noise the FANS did.

“You can feel the energy running through the crowd, and I love that,” FANS Club vice president Tommy Kline said. “It’s an adrenaline rush.

“I feel like we help the team so much. In a close situation, we have their backs. I think that’s what makes it special.”

Adding an interesting twist to Friday’s ‘Silent Night’ event was the fact that students came dressed in costumes.

“It was like a second Halloween,” said senior Darcy Horn, the club secretary who was painted blue and came as a Navy Seal. “People were dressed up as lifeguards, animals, candy canes, the president with body guards, toddlers and tiaras.

“There’s no rhyme or reason why we dress up in costumes. It just adds to the night. We did it last year and people loved it, so we did it again this year.”

The idea of starting a FANS Club actually was the brainchild of Evan Horn, Darcy’s brother who is now a freshman at the University of Wisconsin. What began with seven or eight members three years ago became an official club during the 2010-11 school year. Today the club boasts more than 270 members, and it’s still growing.

“Because I was here as a freshman and sophomore when there really wasn’t any school spirit and no one would support the team, it’s interesting to see the difference,” Darcy Horn said. “It’s just really fun, it makes the games fun, it makes everybody more excited, and it brings a sense of community to the school.”

On the subject of building community, Gomez, his fellow officers and the FAN leaders have taken their club one step further this year by laying the groundwork for a FANS Club at the middle school.

“We have a middle school advisor, and it’s already starting up there,” Gomez said. “They’re going to do their own thing with their middle school sports but also with our major events – the big basketball games, the big football games. We’re trying to get them out there and get as many kids out as possible. On Friday night, it was awesome to see 15 middle schoolers walk in together, which made the night even better.”

Spreading the word about FANS Club has been an objective of Gomez’s administration, and he and his fellow officers visited the middle school during a lunch period to generate interest.

“We brought the Trojan mascot with us, we walked around and got them excited,” Gomez said. “The whole lunch was giving high five’s, showing ‘W’s. It was really something special.

“It must have worked because a lot of kids came out.”

The preparation for Friday’s ‘Silent Night’ included promoting the event in the high school as well.

“At first, it was word of mouth because our announcements can stream over to Upper Dublin,” Gomez said. “Then we started putting a few commercials up.

“The day of ‘Silent Night’ we had a meeting to go over how we have to act – we have to be appropriate, we can’t do certain things.’”

While the FANS make their presence felt at the major sporting events, they also show up at lower profile events, and they don’t limit themselves to just sports.

“We’ll come out for the musical – we’ll all dress up nice and just get a ton of kids out there,” Gomez said. “If a kid is in drama and sees the whole basketball team come out or a bunch of football players, that will make them say, ‘Okay, we don’t usually go out to football or basketball games, but they came to support us. Maybe we should show our support.’ It starts spreading around.”

According to Kline, club members must attend up to 10 FANS events.

“Some events are fandatory,” he said. “We don’t do boys basketball all the time. We’ll also go to a wrestling match, a girls’ basketball or volleyball game.”

Kline has been involved in FANS since his sophomore year when the club began.

“I remember hearing about it from a lot of the older guys,” he said. “They did a good job of getting a lot of the younger guys out, which has made a strong base for right now.

“I played water polo with Evan Horn, and he was like, ‘Dude, come out to this meeting. We really have fun,’ so I went, and I was hooked right away because it was such a fun club.”

Fun is the operative word for FANS Club.

“I don’t play a winter sport,” Kline said. “Days are short, and this gives you something to look forward to.

“Even on a school night, if the basketball team is at home, someone will say, ‘Hey, let’s all show up tonight and everyone wear blue shirts.’ We’re seniors, we’re not going to have this next year, and that’s why I really like it.”

Senior Maddy Bills was a natural fit for the club. Elected the club’s vice president, she was named most spirited in the senior class.

“I love school spirit,” she said. “I have always been a fan because my sister and brother were constantly playing basketball, and I always came along for the ride to cheer them on.

“I know my brother and sister loved the fact that I came to watch them. I like being able to support the kids in my school. In most schools, kids only go to boys’ basketball and football games. We got to chorus concerts and drama club events, and when we go, the kids are really excited. It’s an amazing club to be part of. From middle schoolers to seniors – even parents love it.”

As a member of the lacrosse team, Gomez knows how much fan support can mean.

“Not that fans are a reason to play a sport, but knowing the kids are going to come out and support you and have your back and represent your school along with you, it’s just something really cool,” he said.  “This year especially we’re all starting to come together. It doesn’t matter your grade. I’m friends with freshmen, sophomores and seniors because of FANS.”

The next big fandatory event is coming up on Friday night at the final basketball game before winter break.

“It’s the end of the world, so we’re having a Wiss-pocolypse,” Kline said. “We don’t do big stuff for every event, but it’s the Friday before winter break so everyone will be hyped and excited.”

As a show of support to the families of Newtown, Conn., the FANS will be wearing Sandy Hook's school colors (green and white) to Friday night's game.

One fact is clear - Evan Horn was onto something when he came up with the idea of starting a FANS Club.

“It’s really special to know everyone wants to be a part of it and not just a few people,” Darcy Horn said. “It really brings a sense of community.

“It’s really fun for the basketball team, and I think it’s just as much fun for each fan as it is for the basketball team. I know the basketball players were telling me they wished they could watch the game instead of being in it because it’s really fun.”

And having fun while supporting their school is what the FANS Club is all about.