In the wake of Hurricane Ida, hopes of the highly anticipated Kingsway Football game on the campus of Rutgers University suddenly came to an end. Yet for a community of both students and faculty who are emerging from the world of zoom calls and quarantines, a little bit of unpredictability is nothing they can’t handle.
Kingsway’s administration in conjunction with the student council was quick to adapt their plans and house the game at Kingsway instead, on the second day of school this year. The game versus the Shawnee Renegades on Friday, Sept. 3 marked the first game with spectators in the stands in the newly remodeled stadium, which includes a new track and turf.
While the outcome of the game left a lot to be desired, some say that the atmosphere of the students cheering from the bleachers made a 38-0 loss feel somewhat like a victory.
“Even though the outcome of the game wasn’t one we wanted, everyone was still able to have a good time. The reality is a lot of people go to the football games for the social aspect of it, and although the score wasn’t one we wanted, everyone was still on their feet and cheering,” explains junior, Luke Wordelmann.
For many students, including upperclassmen like Wordelmann, the Shawnee game was not just the first Kingsway home game of the 2021-2022 school year, but the first home game of their high school lives.
During the 2019-2020 school year, before the pandemic, all Kingsway Football home games were played in Richard Wackar Stadium at Rowan University while Kingsway’s field was undergoing renovations. At this time the current junior class (2023) were freshmen, and the current senior class (2022) were sophomores. The only current students who ever had the opportunity to attend games on their home turf during high school are the seniors, and even so, many never attended as freshmen.
“Our student section was definitely more exciting in the new stadium. When we had our games at Rowan, all of the students were more spread out, but being so close together helped us get our school spirit up a lot more,” notes senior Morgan Counsellor. “As a senior, the last time we were in the stadium was our freshman year, so the energy was definitely much different from then,” she continued.
In addition to watching the game, many students were excited to see their Kingsway dance team, cheerleaders, and marching band back in action. These athletes were equally as thrilled to return to the spotlight.
“The best part about being back was being able to do our dance team halftime routine in front of hundreds of students and to see them cheering on the dance team, cheerleaders, and the football team. The dance team is relatively new here at Kingsway so every year it gets better and better,” highlights Miranda Zeno, junior.
“Last year, unfortunately, the dance team could not participate in a competition, as we did my freshman year, but we were able to perform in another event where the judges just critiqued us instead of going against another team. This year we learned band dances to dance on the sidelines while the band plays their music. We are also hoping to participate in another competition this year and hopefully take home a win,” Zeno conveyed.
However, the dance team and cheerleading squad were not the only people who came ready to amp up the crowd. A crew of 15 upperclassmen boys took their school spirit to the next level, and fans loved every minute of it.
“A couple of seniors reached out to me and said they had a group that was going to paint DRAGONS across their chest. They asked if I would be interested in getting a group to spell KINGSWAY. Through social media, I asked a bunch of people in our grade to participate, and with the help of others I had a group of guys by the time Friday came,” disclosed Wordelmann.
Perhaps the most important part of the continued ‘lettermen’ tradition is the aspect of inclusion. The group of boys who painted their chest were not of one friend group, but of many. Their Kingsway pride brings them together in the spirit of “One Dragon Family”, a district-wide philosophy that Kingsway has adopted over the past few years.
As school returns to session this year, leaving behind the hybrid learning and asynchronous days, students are most excited about getting back to the events that bring the most people together. Kingsway Football is a clear staple of what the dragon culture is all about.
Every game, the student section has a cheer that ends with “D.R.A.G.O.N.S, dragons, dragons are the best!” When it comes to school spirit, the Kingsway Dragons student section takes “being the best” to the next level, and they are extremely successful in doing so.
by Audrey Pachuta