Five members of the boys basketball team dominate sidelines

March 14, 2016

When senior guard Tyler Wiedeman knocked down a three-pointer two minutes into the first quarter of the Muskegon game, the fans attention was dragged from the court to the extravagant celebration occurring at the bench. The non-starters, or “bench warmers”, were pulling back imaginary bow and arrows, holding up three fingers, wildly jumping around and generally getting rowdy.

Five members of the boys basketball team, juniors Jeffrey VanDalen, Mac Mahacek, Jack Riopelle and seniors Connor Jettner and Jordan DeKlyen have rid themselves of the stigma and embraced their title.

“The term bench warmers is not offensive, that’s what we are,” Jettner, the five-foot-four energetic leader of the self-proclaimed crew, said. “We are the captains of the bench. When the team is out there getting buckets, we get hype on the bench.”

But this hype squad isn’t all fun and games, they take their job seriously.

“The cheers we do help out the players on the court and give them energy to keep pushing and play better,” Riopelle said. “It’s the responsibility of the bench to pump up the starters and they do the same for us.”

Some believe that players that don’t see much court time are unimportant; the starters of the team disagree.

“They help us get the (win), they get us hype,” junior Ross Koella said. “The bench is a lot better than it has been in the past.”

The crew jokes about why they get so fired up during games, but everything they do is for the good of the team.

“We get hype so they do well and if they do well we get to play,” Mahacek said with a laugh. “We just like to bring the energy. It’s about helping each other out.”

Basketball is a mental game. So when the team is down, the bench warmers boost the team’s morale.

“We just feel that energy when we are out on the court, especially on defense and it just helps us play harder,” Koella said.

Students have taken notice of the savage squad that dominates the end of the bench. Fans claim that they aren’t just hyping up the team, but they get the student section excited as well.

“It’s really a good spirit booster for everyone that is there,” junior Noah Huyler said. “When you see the players themselves being really passionate about their game it makes everyone want to be more passionate. The players see the student section supporting them and it just creates a family atmosphere.”

The bench warmers recognize their mission and know that it is all about the team.

“The team is everything,” Mahacek said. “We have a lot of amazing individuals but we are not that good unless we all play together, each of us are important.”

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