Xavier spirit is 'loud, proud and positive'
Think Tank promotes positive support at school sporting events
By Amanda Lauer
APPLETON -- Cheering seems to be an integral part of any sporting competition. By definition, cheering is meant to be a positive way to encourage players and teams. But regardless of what level a sport- youth through professional - fans don't always follow the golden rule when rooting for their teams.
Xavier High School has been addressing the issue of bringing cheering back to its positive image thanks to a former Xavier parent, Kristeen Clouthier, mother to Xavier graduates Christopher, '03, and Andrew (A.C.), '06.
"Cheering has been my hobby ever since the boys were playing T-ball," said Clouthier. "I don't know why but I've always been a mom that just likes to cheer and also feels with a lot of good, positive cheering, kids may be motivated to push themselves just a little further."
When A.C. was a senior, Clouthier came up with the idea of starting the Spirit Think Tank at Xavier. "It started because it just seemed that I had been noticing over a couple of years that the crowd was a little less spirited. There seemed to be some kind of small momentum of doing cheers that were getting back at each others' teams, so the banter began to get kind of negative."
As a high school student, Clouthier recalled attending games when Abbot Pennings High School in De Pere was competing at Xavier. "I remember being at Xavier when cheering used to be where they'd 'raise the roof,' they never stopped cheering for their team, even when they were down. When I was in Xavier and began to see that the kids were beginning to be more negative than positive it just seemed to me that this needed to be changed. We needed to be
representative of a student body that I recalled years ago, of the place where you always wanted to go to. The place you always admired because everybody cheered in a positive mode."
Clouthier approached Matt Reynebeau, Xavier principal, with her thoughts on turning things around. "'What if we took the kids and allowed them to have ownership and create cheers and create a positive atmosphere and let them be the leaders of it, the ambassadors of positive cheering, rather than it coming from adults?' He really liked that idea. I was allowed to talk to the student body and said, 'Let's bring it back to what it used to be.'"
The Spirit Think Tank started with 10 members, all of whom were seniors. "This year at our very first meeting, we had 30 kids," noted Clouthier. "We have freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors. So we have already got the makings of the leaders when (the underclassmen) are seniors."
Xavier High School definitely has spirit.
"The kids seem to be enjoying getting back into it, whether they're painting their faces or wearing (clothing in) the same theme. They love creating the themes. They love creating the posters. This year's group has taken the leadership beyond," said Clouthier. "When I show up at a meeting, I'm not even needed anymore. They've got the agenda on the board; they know what to talk about. We talk a lot about making sure to include the freshmen and the sophomores so that they feel a part of it. So they've created leaders in each group and they've got a walkie-talkie system, especially at football, so they can go up the aisles to make sure everybody knows what cheer is going on and what we're doing, which is really impressive."
The motto of the Spirit Think Tank is "Be loud, be proud, be positive." Their other goals this year are making sure students in all grades are included in cheering, having both the student body and the parents learn the school song, and promoting student attendance at all of Xavier's athletic events. "We want to encourage the kids to go to as many of the games as they can of other sports, including golf, hockey, cross country, track, said Clouthier. "We're beginning to take a look at how we can maybe try at least to notify everybody (of upcoming events) so that they are more aware of them."
Senior Chelsey Wilz is an active member of the Spirit Think Tank. The first two years'
events were planned only for basketball games. The weekly meetings began early this year to encompass more sports, starting with football.
"We usually do an announcement the day before the game on what the theme is going to be, where the tailgate's going to be and what time," said Wilz. "The day of the game some of the guys have been doing predictions of the scores and every once in a while they get some of the players to come down and predict the scores."
A new tradition was started this fall.
"Our big thing this year is we've been walking in together for each game," said Wilz. "We started that with the Little Chute game. We walked in with the, 'Whose House? Our House' sign. Since that game we've been walking in as one student body, which has been so cool."
Other fan favorite cheers include "Baby Hawk," "We've got Spirit" (led by the football cheerleaders), and "The Rollercoaster," according to Wilz.
"It's obviously about supporting the sports teams, but I think one of the most important things also is about representing Xavier in a positive way and just showing our school spirit and how much fun we have and that we are a positive place to be," she said. "It helps with promoting Xavier to people that are looking (at the school) in the future. I know when I was in middle school and I went to the Xavier games it was like I always wanted to be in that crowd and be doing the cheers and having fun."