Focusing on the Improvement of Sports Culture and Spirit


Football field at San Marin High School.

Hannah Nicholas, Reporter

For years, it seems Novato High has lacked athletic spirit and a positive sports culture. Most students, athletes, coaches, teachers, and administrators can agree that some changes need to be made in order to have a more energetic, spirited campus.
Improving the overall attendance at NHS sporting events could help improve the overall spirit and culture.
“The more people that start coming to sports games, the more will follow. I think we need to be publicizing games, having themes for games, and making it an interactive experience for the crowd-watching,” said NHS Senior Rebecca Janssen.
“I would push to have more of a student presence at all sporting events, and have themes for some of the games to make it fun for the students in the stands,” said NHS senior Cole Morris.
Another idea to grow NHS sports culture would be to encourage other sports teams to collectively attend games.
Novato High AP Euro teacher and longtime coach Jason Searle provided some insight.
“I found that the biggest thing with sports culture is it really starts with a group of seniors that are deciding that they are gonna just kind of (show) support,” said Searle. “Usually it starts with other sports showing; baseball guys or basketball guys or basketball girls, or volleyball girls, deciding that they are going to support water polo today. People come as a way to support each other, and that usually turns into more people over time.”
“I think it could be cool if a team adopted a team from another sport and went to their games and vice-versa,” said Michele Sanner, NHS science teacher.
Recently, Novato High has been working on improving sports culture and spirit.
NHS Athletic Director Michele Smith explained what NHS is currently working on.
“One day at a time. I believe building a positive culture and school spirit is a process and it can not be accomplished in one day. It will take time. As a step in the right direction, this year I started the “Swarm” Student Section in the hopes that it will help build school spirit,” Smith said. “Students become members by paying $40. This cost gets them a black t-shirt, white t-shirt, and surprise gift and free entrance to all home games. All members are also put into a drawing for the possibility to win prizes at the games they attend. We are also working on having the faculty and staff attend games. They have the opportunity to put their name in a drawing at the end of each season to win gifts like swag, gift cards, or meals.”
Establishing larger crowds is instrumental, but encouraging more students and staff to attend games and events is the true challenge. Novato High continues to search for ways to make the games more attractive to the masses.
“It’s harder in high school, we are at a high school with a lot of different avenues, a lot of different things. So it’s not just athletics, it’s also performances, there are all sorts of different ways that you can support each other,” Searle said. “I think that’s what it ultimately comes down to; how do we create a situation where people feel that the athletes are going to come to support theater performances, theater kids are going to come to support the athletes. When people all feel that they are together, supporting each other, on the things they are good at.”
Adding pep bands or marching bands could also be other ways to positively improve the school spirit and sports culture at NHS. This would be yet another outlet for students who need elective or art credits and also allow for students who are not in MSA to play and perform music.
“I think it would be so cool to have our amazing musicians perform at our sporting events. It wouldn’t even have to be a traditional pep band. In fact I think it would be so cool to see the rock band at a football game, or the jazz choir at the basketball game for the national anthem. Just as an example,” said Sanner.
Searle knows the benefit of live music at games.
“When I went here, we had one, they played at games, and when I coached football, we could occasionally get the rock band to come out and play at our games. That was fun! I definitely think it can bring a sense of community when you have groups from traditionally different parts of the school. Supporting each other in ways they are good at,” said Searle.
Overall there are many things that NHS as a whole is currently working on to improve sports culture and school spirit. However, there are still some things that NHS can incorporate to continue to grow.