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Drumlines, Downpours, and Delays

When one thinks of a successful first high school football game, an easy win, a home game, and perfect weather come to mind. However, last Thursday’s first football game of the season consisted of torrential downpours, multiple delays, mosh pits, and just might possibly have been the most memorable. Along with the large student section who made the trek to Fruitport, came the Forest Hills Eastern drumline. 

With his goal being to emulate the spirit that the class of 2020 is known for, Vipul Adusumilli (‘20) decided that drumline should play at the first away game “because it’s the first football game and I thought it would be a good way to pump up our student section.” Drumline travelling to away games is an unusual occurrence, so it was a pleasant surprise to see how well we were received. “My favorite part of the night was when the drumline played We Will Rock You and the student section sang it. It was fun for me to see the student section enjoy our tunes! It made my night when people kept asking us to play and interacting with us.”

Upon the drumline’s arrival at Fruitport High School, parents and students alike were gathered in the parking lot awaiting the end of what would be the first of many delays. Usually, a crowd would be despondent at the idea of a game delay, but the students of Eastern instead headed to the parking lot. We watched on as a sea of Hawaiian shirts, leis, and coconut bras danced around the parking lot, blaring music, socializing, and noshing on Froot Loops. 

When asked what she did during the delay preceding the game, Brooke Morely (‘21) smiled, recounting the unconventional tailgate. “I went back to Kate Ottenwess’ mini-van and we were just partying! We were blaring music and chilling.”

When the lightning warning passed, a flood of people rushed the Fruitport stadium gates. As the drumline played near the ticket booth, the number of familiar faces seemed to outnumber the home team supporters by far. Eastern parents kept giving us surprised and then excited looks when they realized that the drumline, who’s cadences were taking over the entrance gate, were indeed the visiting team’s. Even Fruitport’s band cheered on our drumline as we marched by.

Excitement was in the air as the game finally kicked off. The FHE student section was overflowing the stands. As Vipul began playing the cowbell, the energy and hawk pride reverberating in the visitor bleachers seemed tangible. 

“It is so exciting because there are so many Eastern people!” gushed Marine Avequin (‘20) over the din of the student section cheering along with the cheerleaders. “We are overcrowding the guest student area! Everyone’s awesome, everyone is cheering… In the first five seconds Luke Brenner scored a touchdown, and it was amazing! I think this is going to be a good season!” 

Unfortunately, energy wasn’t the only thing brewing in Fruitport that evening. As the first quarter was wrapped up, a huge storm had settled over our heads. The game was once again postponed due to lightning. The heavens opened up, and a torrential downpour of rain instantly drenched everyone. However, even this was not enough to discourage the Eastern student section, who had reached an all time hype-high. 

“We got soaked in the rain and ended up going into [Fruitport’s] cafeteria and making a mosh pit… It was just wild,” said Brooke excitedly. After being shuffled back in and outside due to repetitive lighting delays, the visiting hawks were directed away from the bleachers, where the Fruitport student section migrated over to join them. “[They] came across the field with a big speaker and we just had a sort of ‘peace treaty’… it was really cool to interact with the other school and it was just a really fun time.”

The game ultimately was rescheduled for the following day, in which we unfortunately lost 40-33. However, the students of Forest Hills Eastern hardly count the loss as a rough start to the season. While each person who got to share in the special experience has a different perspective on what exactly went down, the strength and unity of the student section remains a constant. This game, according to Vipul, had what he thought was the most spirit and supporters he had seen (especially for an away game). When asked about her overall perception of the game, Brooke answered without missing a beat: “It was probably one of the best football games I’ve ever been to… It is definitely going to be one that I remember.”