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OCVarsity's Favorite Fans of the Winter
If the Superdome in New Orleans had their energy, there would not have been a power outage at the Super Bowl.
Orange County high school sporting events become the cool place to be for students. Many county schools have dedicated student cheering sections, sections that make some games feel like a Duke vs. North Carolina basketball game.
The rivalry games bring out the best student cheering groups. In basketball, kids fill the gyms for El Toro vs. Mission Viejo in the South Coast League, Sonora vs. Sunny Hills in the Freeway League, Canyon vs. Villa Park in the Century League, and many more. The soccer sidelines and the pool decks are populated by students cheering on their teams.
The OCVarsity staff put together an All-County team of these student cheering sections for the winter sports season, as we get ready for the playoffs that begin next week.
Here they are, the loudest and the proudest ...
Steve Fryer’s favorite fans: Servite
Many schools have a home-court advantage.
At a Servite home basketball game, the advantage can be so significant it is practically cheating.
The boisterous boys turn the Servite gym into what is called “The Asylum.” The place produces some crazy results.
Servite has defeated two Orange County top five teams at “The Asylum,” No. 3 Orange Lutheran and No. 5 El Toro.
The Friars were 0-10 in the Trinity League last season. This season, they are 3-5 and two of those victories happened at Servite, including a 38-37 victory over Orange Lutheran.
Lutheran coach Chris Nordstrom was impressed by the Servite fans.
“They’re organized and they cheer for their team,” Nordstrom said. “If the opposing team gets frazzled, they’ll go after you but that’s not how they start. They’re not calling kids names and they’re not mean spirited, they’re just having a great time.
“I love their crowd.”
Other Fryer favorites:
Canyon, El Toro, Foothill, Garden Grove, Mater Dei, Mission Viejo, Orange Lutheran, Sonora, Sunny Hills, Troy, Villa Park
Adam Maya’s favorite fans: Sunny Hills
Sunny Hills fans show up early and come out in droves. They’re actively loud and save an extra gear for those special moments in a game. They’re smart, loyal and passionate, much like many of the best fans throughout the county.
The Lancers’ two best qualities might be their devotion and character, which were on full display during a pair of playoff games last year.
Following one of Sunny Hills’ improbable upsets, the student section quickly filed out of the gym, lined up in two rows outside the locker room and patiently waited through a lengthy postgame meeting. Once the players came out, the students formed a human tunnel for each player to run through as their name was being screamed by their peers.
A few days later, many fans made a long trek to support their team on the road. There were a few instances in which the opposing fans taunted the Lancers with racially-charged chants. Not once did the Sunny Hills fans respond, holding to the cheers they had yelled throughout their record-setting season.
Other Maya favorites:
Esperanza, CdM, Newport Harbor, Canyon, Sonora
Damian Calhoun’s favorite fans: El Toro
When you attend a high school sporting event, you need to be prepared for anything.
Earlier this season, I attended the Mission Viejo at El Toro boys basketball game. The El Toro student section arrived dressed in fluorescent clothing. The gym was packed, the student section was alive.
The Chargers trailed by eight after the first quarter, but that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the El Toro students.
Their passion and support helped lead the Chargers to an upset, 73-72 victory over Mission Viejo. After the game, the gym was cleared for a lights-off, postgame dance.
I’ve always enjoyed covering games at El Toro. The gym has an old-school feel and the students are always doing their best to help the Chargers to victory.
Also, El Toro hit the floor to “Public Service Announcement Interlude” off of the Black Album by Jay-Z … good pregame music counts for everything in my book.
Other Calhoun favorites:
Capistrano Valley, Mater Dei, Mission Viejo, Orange Lutheran, Villa Park
Carlos Arias’ favorite fans: Rosary
The campus at Rosary is a tight-knit community.
The all-girls Catholic school features students who are extremely involved with clubs and extracurricular activities, which means there is a ton of support for the athletic programs.
Rosary's fans pack the school's tiny on-campus gym for big Trinity League girls basketball games, and the Royals faithful cheer with the same intensity when their team is involved in a razor-thin decision or is down by 20 points.
I saw a girl in the student section lose her mind when Royals guard Samantha Hernandez knocked down a 3-pointer in the fourth quarter that cut JSerra's lead to 17 points during a game this season. You would have thought Hernandez just hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer in the CIF-SS finals.
That's how hard these Royals fans pull for their team.
The student section is always filled with clever chants. One of my favorites was earlier this season when the fans recognized OCVarsity videographer Jonathan Khamis and started chanting "OC-VARSITY!" Of course, that landed them a spot on Khamis' highlight video and on the top of my list of favorite fans.
Other Arias favorites:
Laguna Hills, Orange Lutheran, San Clemente, Troy, Mater Dei, JSerra, Segerstrom, Woodbridge, Canyon, Foothill, Brea Olinda
Damian Dottore’s favorite fans: Century
There are a lot of passionate boys soccer fans in the county, but whenever I go to a Century boys soccer game, it always feels like a happening.
I remember showing up to one game where several members of the school band were playing in front of the pack grandstands. Just last week during a key Orange League game against rival Santa Ana Valley, one person showed up with a boom box and started blasting some music for a while. Dancing spontaneously started in the Centennial Park stands. Too bad Century coach Bruce Silverman told them to turn it off, fearing the referee might give them a yellow card.
When a game is held on campus, it’s not unusual for the students to be lined up all along the chain link fence surrounding the field, cheering as loud as they can most of the time. Sometimes workers from the adjacent businesses hang over the block wall between them and the school to check out the action.
You get the feeling that Century treats boys soccer the way every other school does football. For those 80 or so minutes I feel like I am at the biggest game in town, which is why I always try to get out to at least a couple Century games per season, especially the one against Santa Ana Valley. The quality of the soccer in that game and the atmosphere are hard to match.
Other Dottore favorites:
San Clemente, El Toro, Esperanza, Valencia, Yorba Linda, Servite, Fountain Valley, Los Alamitos
Jason Eichelberger’s favorite fans: San Clemente
The San Clemente girls soccer team has been one of the county’s most successful programs in recent seasons, advancing to the CIF-SS Division 1 championship match in a county-record five consecutive seasons.
One of the enduring components of their incredible run has been the opportunity for me to experience the fan support the Tritons receive.
The atmosphere at a San Clemente home soccer match is always festive and energetic, with the fans arriving early and also eager to discuss their team, their opponents, and the soccer scene around the county.
A good fan base for a high school must also include a strong and vocal student section, and the Triton student section is among the loudest and most creative in the county. In addition to their raucous support of the Tritons, the student section has been known to obtain rosters of the opposition and come up with “unique” cheers and chants, all in good fun.
Even coach Stacey Finnerty and athletic director Jon Hamro have been known to illicit spontaneous standing ovations and cheers of support from the student section.
And how many places can you think of where soccer matches have been interrupted by streakers?
The Triton faithful bring a lot of support on the road. Tournaments, regular season, or CIF playoff matches, the fans of San Clemente vocally make their presence known.
Other Eichelberger favorites (listed by ranking):
Los Alamitos, Esperanza, Aliso Niguel, Villa Park, Santa Margarita, Edison, Orange Lutheran, Yorba Linda
GIRLS WATER POLO
Dan Albano’s favorite fans: Newport Harbor
I've seen a lot of growth in girls water polo since it became a CIF-Southern Section championship sport in 1998.
I've watched the caliber of players, teams and coaching improving.
But in terms of popularity with fans, I knew girls water polo arrived in that area about four years ago when I started spotting boys water polo players attending the girls games - and they were vocal and involved in the game.
The girls have long supported the boys, and the boys are now returning the favor. (I hope this trend continues.)
Laguna Beach's boys caught my attention last month with loud cheering during a game at Foothill. Yes, the boys are now traveling to girls games.
At Mater Dei earlier this season, Mater Dei's girls had the support of the boys team for its showdown against Santa Margarita.
My favorite group of girls water polo fans, however, hails from Newport Harbor. The traditionally strong program easily fills its stands for the big matches.
Newport Harbor's fans also usually show a high level of respect for the game.
Albano's other favorite fans:
Corona del Mar, Foothill, Laguna Beach, Mater Dei