Crossing Lines

An opinion in response to a letter complaining about NPHS student conduct

Gracia Lantis, Photography Editor

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It’s 6:55 on a Thursday night, anticipation builds among North Platte High School volleyball fans.

Josie Preece
North Platte High varsity volleyball plays Kearney Catholic on Oct. 8 at home.

Five senior players are about to play their last-ever home game. The student section turn-out is great. The theme is pink-out for breast cancer awareness. After warm ups are over, the announcer introduces the opposing team. It’s Kearney Catholic High School. Some upperclassman, maybe senior Tanner Ruda, silently signals for the student section to turn away from the court, while the other team’s players are announced. 

The game ends up being tight, but Kearney Catholic pulls through and wins the game by a nail-biting two points in the fifth set.

This is a true story, about school spirit, about athletes, and about crossing lines. 

On October 9, the day after the volleyball game, a woman named Pam Ahlers sent a Letter to the Editor to the “North Platte Bulletin” titled “Disgusting, rude behavior at NP volleyball game.”  Ahlers is from Kearney and traveled to North Platte to watch the volleyball game. In her letter, Ahlers describes how overall the Kearney Catholic fans were impressed with NPHS and its school spirit when they first arrived, but were disgusted when the student section turned the other way while their players were announced. She truly believed that the student section had crossed a line. Ahlers goes on to express discontent, saying that the Kearney Catholic athletes already experience enough negativity in their lives and pose the question: “What would North Platte think if this happened to them at their next sporting event?”

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My name is Gracia Lantis, and I’m a senior at North Platte High School, and as it happens, I am also a part of the varsity volleyball team. Although I do not know Ahlers, I do know what it is like to be frustrated by unsportsmanlike conduct. In our 30+ game season, we had four home games. That’s a lot of chances for opposing team’s student sections to shout insults, boo, chant, or turn their backs while my teammates and I are announced, and let me tell you, those student sections took those chances. Once, I walked past a student section before a game even started and was referred to as “fat a**” and “thunder thighs.” Of course I was upset, but when I told my team, they were level-headed, and put me back into the mindset I needed to be in to play the game.  

As athletes, we factor in crowd and student-section energy when we travel. The best athletes play consistent matches in every situation they are put in. Even with that mentality, there are some schools whose student sections are particularly brutal. These are the student sections that call your name across the court, or make personal attacks. They cross lines. 

Coleman Riggins
The student section poses for a picture on Sep. 17.  The dress-up theme was western wear.

 

NPHS does not make personal attacks on players. However loud and obnoxious, our student section isn’t disrespectful. Distracting? Maybe. But most students believe that as well as supporting our team, our student section should contribute to the playing environment. “A student section’s job is to get in the other team’s head. Not single them out or attack them, but to be loud and obnoxious,” senior Gus Kreber said. 

Students recognize that turning your back while the other team is announced is not a new concept. Previously, it was a trend for student sections to hold newspapers up and pretend to read while the other team’s players were announced. “You see it at the collegiate level, you see it at the high school level, it’s just something that student sections do,” Athletic Director Jordan Cudney said.  

I already stated that I do not know Ahlers, but I have to wonder how often she travels to watch the volleyball team, or any team at all. 

Josie Preece
North Platte High School versus Kearney Catholic Oct. 8 at home.

North Platte Students, teachers, and community members disagree with Ahlers statements about the student section’s actions, and they’re not the only ones. “Actually, the opposing AD had nothing but good things to say about our student section that night, he said they were a great student section,” Cudney said. 

So to answer Ahlers’ question, “What would North Platte think if this happened to them at their next sporting event?” Well, it will happen. It has in the past, and it most certainly will again. But while I’m waiting for my number to be called as I stand on the end-line, I won’t be mad. I won’t fault the student section for not cheering for me. They haven’t crossed any lines. What seems like crossing a line to me, though, is writing a Letter-to-the-Editor demanding an apology from a student body who has not done anything unacceptable. 

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