The games are better when there is big time crowd participation and involvement, there is no doubt.

Pendleton Heights got some attention earlier this year when they announced that students would get free admission to sporting events in 2019-20. While there are other schools in the area that already did this, it was a move that I applauded at the time and continue to cheer wildly about.

PH said that more than 60 kids took advantage of the option last Monday when the volleyball and girls soccer teams opened their seasons at home. Both were very successful — the volleyball team swept Richmond in dominant fashion and the soccer team beat up on Lebanon 6-1.

And I’m sure the support the athletes received from their classmates had a lot to do with that.

Another great example of the impact the student section can have on their team happened the following night at Elwood.

The Panthers volleyball team had won just 10 games last year and was up against a Lapel group that was coming off a 27-6 campaign.

On paper, a total mismatch.

In reality, it was an exciting night of volleyball as Elwood came from behind to take the first set before eventually falling in four hard-fought sets.

The Panthers played with emotion at the outset. Part of that was because of a heartwarming tribute they’d given coach Lindsay Durm, who had lost her father this summer, prior to the game.

Another part, however, was the decibel level put forth by the Elwood student section that left plenty of ears ringing as they left the gymnasium that night.

If I had to guess, about 60 or so students packed into the bleachers on a “white out” night, not a bad showing at all for a 2A school. They used their voices to both back their players as well as needle the opponents and did both in a tasteful manner. They were never obscene or out of line.

I thought it felt like a postseason environment, something that Lapel coach Hilary Eppert agreed with. She said playing in a hostile environment early in the season is something that will help her team down the road.

The Elwood kids were certainly not there to help Lapel achieve their long-term goals, but rather to support their own team and the kids they walk the halls with Monday through Friday.

They did it well, they did it loudly and they made a fun night of volleyball even more memorable.

We certainly have some great student sections in the area. Alexandria, Lapel, PH and Shenandoah among others, and I saw some great photos and video of the Daleville kids lending their voices at a recent home volleyball match as well.

While Frankton may still be the gold standard for area student sections, the other kids in the area are stepping up their game.

Imagine a competition for best student section.

That could be the most enjoyable contest of them all.

Contact Rob Hunt at or 640-4886.

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