Students wait for Wilson Memorial’s winter sports and football state championship recognition pep rally to begin Friday, December 12.
FISHERSVILLE – The pep rally didn’t last long Friday at Wilson Memorial High, but it did leave an impression.
As students walked away from the stands one last time before the school’s football team heads into the Group 2A state high school football championship game on Saturday in Salem, they unified once more to give the team a proper sendoff.
“It’s just exciting,” said senior Chris Davis, a member of the school’s first-year pep club. “Coming to school every day, it doesn’t feel like school. It just feels like football. Football. Football. I feel like I’m on the team, but obviously I’m not.”
Over the weeks, spirit has been building inside the hallways. And the Green Hornets, who are arriving at the state’s last game after falling short four years previously, know that. They’re hoping to validate all the good faith and warm intentions they’ve received over that time.
“It’s crazy,” said senior Josh Wilt of the energy surrounding the game. “We’ve almost gotten there almost every year since I’ve been here. And now they’re doing it in my senior year, it’s kind of amazing.”
School support will show itself in caravans across long highway miles on Interstate 81. The school is providing a fan bus for the 4:30 p.m. game — which, Davis said, “will be packed” —while many others will be driving to Salem City Stadium themselves.
But first, Wilson gathered one last time as a school to recognize it’s winter programs and the football team.
Standing before the entire student body for what was expected to be a regular winter sports pep rally, first-year athletic director Craig Flesher gave the crowd a reminder.
“We’ve been told all week that Glenvar is just three miles away (actually eight),” he said. “We’ve been told that they’re going to pack the stadium. Maybe we shouldn’t even show up?”
But, Flesher insisted, those thoughts would be disengenous. By Friday afternoon, he said, over 900 of the school’s 1,000 tickets that were allocated to them had been purchased.
Wilson, he added, won’t have any problems filling seats up.
“We’ve all come together and unified,” said sophomore Kennedy Eakin, who helped form the school’s first-year pep club in 2014. “It’s more of a personal thing to see the team live their dreams, because all of the seniors had been wanting this for awhile.”
Student trainers Kylie Ritts and Alexis Palmerino, in particular, have more investment then most. They’ve been on the sidelines of every game, and they’ve gotten to know most of the players throughout the year.
“It’s definitely exciting,” Palmerino said, “but it’s really nerve-wracking, too.”
Ritts has noticed more of an effort around the community since the team began competing in the postseason.
“I feel like it’s bringing all of us as a community together,” she said. “There are signs everywhere saying ‘Go Wilson Football.'”
Even Rodney Cullen, the school’s head boys’ basketball coach, hasn’t batted an eye. Half of his basketball team, including varsity and jayvee, is still playing football.
“We’re hoping they win it all, and that’s what we’ve said all the way along,” Cullen said. “We’ve been hoping they win. It’s been a difficult first five weeks of practice, but their success, we hope they can carry that to the basketball court, too.”
After all the winter sports teams had been recognized by the student body Friday, Flesher once again went to the student body to create a little life in the crowd.
It didn’t take much.
Just moments after Flesher gave each side of the gym their directions, a giant whoosh of sound caromed off the walls and into the ears of those inside the gymnasium.
“We ARE … WILSON!”
“We ARE … WILSON!”
“We ARE … WILSON!”