The Willistonian, Est. 1881

Why Williston Fans Can’t Chirp

Williston+fans+at+a+boys%27+varsity+soccer+game+this+fall.+Credit%3A+Williston+Flickr.+
Williston fans at a boys' varsity soccer game this fall. Credit: Williston Flickr.

Williston fans at a boys' varsity soccer game this fall. Credit: Williston Flickr.

Williston fans at a boys' varsity soccer game this fall. Credit: Williston Flickr.

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If you have ever been to a Williston sporting event, you would know that the fans who go are only allowed to cheer for Williston. We aren’t allowed to chirp, or heckle, the other teams. Why is this? Is there a rule against it from New England Preparatory School Athletic Council, or is it just Athletic Director Mr. Conroy’s choice?

According to NEPSAC’s website, “spectators should watch games from those areas defined by each school as spectator areas. They must not run up and down sidelines, call to players, coaches or officials in an unsportsmanlike manner, go onto the field of play, or deface property. Any action that detracts from the ability of coaches, players and officials to do their best is not acceptable.”

Head Athletic Director, Mark Conroy, has been here for 18 years.

“We are very clear in assembly early each year about what our school and NEPSAC obligations are as spectators,” Mr. Conroy said. “We enforce the rules by setting a good example as faculty members and addressing when there are instances where we are not as sportsmanlike as we should be.”

Things like honoring visiting teams and guests and treating them well, behaving as an honored guest at other schools, and treating officials and opponents with respect are part of proper conduct and good sportsmanship, according to NEPSAC rules.

“Fortunately, all of these NEPSAC rules are completely consistent with our community’s commitment to respect for self and others,” Conroy said. “It has always been most important for me as athletic director that our athletic program reflects positively on our wonderful school community.”

Jack Phelan is a four-year senior and goes to a lot of boys’ varsity hockey games.

“I like going to all Williston games, but I do have to say that it is a lot more fun when we can cheer against and chirp the other team,” Phelan said. “I personally love chirping the other team — for some players on the other team they like it and can fuel off of it and for other players I do think it rattles them.”

He added, “I think that it is part of the prep school athletic culture to cheer against the other team. Williston goes to other schools and the same thing happens. As long as we are respectful and smart about it, it should be allowed because it gives us more of an advantage.”

Jack has been to many away games as a part of boys’ varsity soccer and boys’ JV hockey, and does not think that the NEPSAC rules that are enforced here are even mentioned to the spectators at other schools.

The boys’ varsity hockey team traveled to Salisbury on December 2, 2017. It was going to be a competitive game, and there were a lot of Salisbury spectators there. Senior captain Sam Milnes was walking underneath the stands to get on the ice and Salisbury fans were spitting on him from up top.

On January 17, 2018, BVH played Vermont Academy. A big collision happened between Milnes and a VA player, and the fans went wild.

“While Joey Ford and I were yelling about the hit, a Vermont Academy mom was yelling at us to be quiet,” Phelan said.

Jen Fulcher is the Head of the Middle School, and also a part of the Positive Coaching Alliance. The PCA is an organization that, “develops better athletes, better people through resources for youth and high school sports coaches, parents, administrators and student athletes.” The primary goal for the organization is to educate young kids, and parents that winning is not the only reason to play a sport; it should be fun, you should learn to become a good teammate and a better person, and you should make lifelong friends. Fans are a big part of how athletes perform on the field, whether it is a parent or a peer cheering.

“One thing Williston does really well is that the thing we value most is sportsmanship,” Fulcher said. “Mr. Conroy does a terrific job about talking to the students at the beginning of the year to communicate the way we should cheer.” Fulcher is the head coach for both girls varsity soccer and lacrosse.

“Williston creates an atmosphere that people feel supported in,” Fulcher added. “We cheer for Williston, and not against the opposing team. We have an incredible student body who listens to our athletic director, who is consistent in telling you guys the rules. Even though we are competitive, we are warm and kind. We have some of the best teams in New England, but we are still one of the most warm and supportive places to play.”

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