Behind the Football: A Story In Pictures

There’s not much that’s comparable to the feeling of a Leesville football game. If you’ve ever been to one, it’s easy to picture the scene– the football team is in their inflatable helmet, the band is on the field playing the National Anthem, and the student section is singing along. At the end, where normal fans would sing “and the home of the brave,” Leesville’s student section screams “and the home… of the… Pride!” and everything happens at once. Baby powder goes flying in the student section. The band plays an upbeat tune. Green smoke pours out of the helmet. Football players thunder onto the field as the crowd roars. The noise from the fans is deafening, as they chant “We are Leesville, we are Pride!” This photo doesn’t even begin to capture the feeling, but there’s nothing quite like it.
If the energy in the bleachers is chaotic, then the energy on the sidelines can only be described as the opposite. It’s high, for sure, but it’s also nervous. The crowd going nuts rubs off on the players to a certain extent– the energy is electric. These three players– Ben Klenke, Filip Gawlinski, and Sema’j Davis — are nervously waiting for kickoff. The noise from the crowd grows in volume right before the kick, and once the ball goes flying through the air, a silent sigh of relief is let out from the sidelines. The game begins.
The Leesville cheer team is smiling for most of the game. They’re required to, which is why it certainly seems they’re the happiest people in the stadium. The bright smiles fit well with the flips, tricks, and cheers they do all game. It’s hard work, but it gets the crowd hyped up which in turn helps the football team.
The bright neon of the student section stands out against a beautiful sunset. Leesville’s student section is always a sight to see — 95% of students dress in whatever the theme is for the week, whether camo, or neon, or green-out. The “parent section,” the section of the bleachers outside of the student section, sits for most of the game, but every student is on their feet the entire time. The only exception is for injuries on the field or halftime, where a senior at the bottom of the bleachers leads storytime and the rollercoaster. During storytime, the chosen senior yells into a megaphone about a fierce lion — the mascot for the Pride — that viciously defeats the other team’s mascot. It can be incredibly entertaining to scream your head off between sentences. The rollercoaster is led by the entire senior section, and involves putting your hands in the air as if on a rollercoaster and waving them around. Both traditions are corny, but they’re fun and get the crowd pretty hype during halftime.
Two football players — Jaejuan Benthall and Beau Atkinson — converse on the sidelines. Being a player is certainly stressful, what with the pressures of coaches, teammates, and fans, but the Leesville Pride gets it done. Currently undefeated with a 10-0 record, the team is doing great for themselves, and clearly hasn’t let the stress get to them. A closer view of the sidelines offers a different view than most students are used to. Watching from the bleachers, students don’t truly see moments like these– short conversations between coaches or players, high fives after plays, or the smiles on players’ faces. 
The student section, decked out in neon, waves their fingers in the air in the shape of a three before a third down. Students at football games have lots of traditions — not only the aforementioned storytime and rollercoaster, but also waving fingers in the hair before kicks, and their chants. Chants like “We are Leesville, we are Pride!” help to get the crowd hyped, and long-standing traditions make each and every game feel special.
The Leesville colorguard, pictured here, dances at the front of the band’s section of the bleachers for most of the game. Like the cheer team, they’re supposed to smile the entire time, but on occasion, those smiles are genuine, and even less often, they’re captured on camera. Whether it be a joke, or the (slightly corny) dance they’re doing, most of the colorguard is laughing at something that happened off camera. It’s easy to do when casually dancing on the bleachers. However, when they’re on the field, twirling a flag or rifle, the work gets much more physically demanding. It’s much harder to laugh with a six-foot flag spinning above your head.
The Leesville Symphonic Band performs their halftime show, “Discovery.” The plot of the show is expertly told through music, featuring trumpet and saxophone solos from Kevin Kurosawa and Gabriel Behler. If you know anything about the marching band, you’ll know that what they do is incredibly difficult– marching to each of their spots in a straight line while avoiding tripping and each other, all while playing all the right notes and rhythms on their instruments.
The Leesville Drumline never fails to get the crowd going. Whether it be the easily recognizable rhythms they play, or a solo from drumline captain Tyler D’Agostino, the student section is easily excited. Each drum has its own part, and since there aren’t many of each drum, everybody has to get their part right. Once they do, though, it can be pretty impressive. 
Almost every paragraph in this article has featured the student section in some way or another. For good reason, too– they’re one of the biggest parts of the game. Here, students look on as an evidently exciting play goes down on the field, and almost every expression is comical, mostly because none of them knew they were being photographed. The freshmen are barely visible all the way in the back, and the sophomores aren’t much better right in front of them, but it’s easy to tell every grade is watching intently. If you’ve ever been to a Leesville game, you know that if this play went well, the noise from the student section was deafening.
This flag– which also flies when the team scores– flies at the end of the game. Seeing it is a good feeling. It doesn’t just represent the people flying it– it represents all of the Pride. Every student that’s not a football player, from the Symphonic Band to the student section, comes together to support the team and hopefully get them a win. 


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