Raider Nation leaves some athletes without a standing army

staff editorial, photo by Caitlin Flood
They were in enemy territory. The benches shook throughout the game. No one dared take a seat. The noise was piercing. For a high school soccer game, the display of school spirit was staggering.
Raider Nation, a student fan group, had managed to get hundreds of students to travel to Westfield for the boys soccer game against the rival Westfield Blue Devils.

Though the student group was founded last year to support Raider sports, not all athletes are feeling the love. Girls sports like volleyball, gymnastics, and even the perennially successful soccer team have not enjoyed the massive turnout of fans that the boys soccer team has thus far.
“Raider Nation should put more effort into supporting everyone, and not only go to big games. They also shouldn’t forget about other Raider sports teams besides soccer,” said junior Angela Rastelli, a girls varsity soccer player.
Rising support for the boys soccer team has been met by decreased support for other sports. According to athletic director Ryan Miller, the average attendance is nearly three to one at boys soccer games compared to girls soccer  games.
“Our outpouring of support for
boys soccer must be near the top of the state; however, we are not as strong in supporting the remaining fall sports,” he said. “We need to continue to focus on supporting the girls sports that are offered.”
Other forms of controversy have surfaced as well. For the first time in recent memory, administrators have had to make general announcements reminding students to behave properly at sporting events as a result of complaints regarding fan rowdiness.
“The Nation can continue to improve by focusing the cheers on our team and eliminating the boos toward the other team and officials,” said Miller.
Though enthusiasm during games is important, the accomplishments of our athletes is overshadowed when behavior becomes unsportsmanlike.
Senior James D’Angelo, one of Raider Nation’s leaders, says that the goal of the group is not to widen the rift between sports teams or encourage disorderly behavior, but to unite athletes and create a “family rather than a social event.”
“This group benefits the school by increasing the interest of students to support their classmates, and gives students something to look forward to,” said D’Angelo.
Unfortunately in spite of this intention, attendance at other sports events besides boys soccer games has been relatively low. The girls volleyball team has gone 17-5 in its regular season, yet the stands have remained nearly empty of student fans, especially at away games. However, a small group of students traveled to the volleyball game in Westfield against the Blue Devils and to Kent Place School.
“Our dominance as a Nation will be shown in our positive sportsmanship toward all and our un-ending passion to support the teams that are competing, not by our ability to embarrass or demean others,” said Miller.
Hopefully Raider Nation will continue working toward its goal of fostering student support for athletic teams and encouraging good sportsmanship.