After a year for the ages, a regression to the mean was expected, however Nashoba fans proved their faithfulness by filling the stands night after night, bearing poor postseason results with unfaltering support. Following a 2012-2013 school year in which Nashoba sports posted mind-boggling results across the board (271 wins out of 383 total games, 24 playoff berths for 26 teams), expectations were sky-high for fall teams this year.
Each team had captivating storylines this fall, ranging from the football team’ winning streak, to the boys cross country team’s improbable state berth, to the volleyball team’s best season in school history. The Nashoba faithful showed up at any and every game possible, providing the ultimate home field advantage for any game played at Nashoba.
The football team came into the season riding a 26 game winning streak on the heels of two straight Super Bowl championships. But with a new coach and the loss of numerous key star players, a three-peat was far-fetched.
“Obviously the streak was on our mind all spring and summer, but 2013 isn’t 2012 or ‘11,” senior captain Matt Curtin said. “We knew we had to put in the hard work, we had a target on our backs… everyone wanted to be the team to break the record.”
With the streak over at 29 after a tough loss to St. Johns, one might expect the stands to be slightly less crowded. Think again. Friday night after friday night, Chieftain diehards packed the bleachers and cheered just as wildly as they had the past two seasons.
But the football team wasn’t the only squad to benefit from great fan support. The boys’ and girls’ soccer teams saw large crowds on their pink nights and during their playoff games. A large amount of the friday night fans made return trips on tuesday and wednesday nights during the girls soccer team playoff games, smashing the spirit can and chanting with all their might to will on the teams. The team that may have seen the most surprising fan support this fall was the volleyball team.
“In years past, we were just playing for the moms and dads… sometimes the other school’s fans outnumbered ours. We were kind of just used to that,” senior captain Victoria Wang explained. “But then this year we would look up some nights and there’d be crazy shirtless fans screaming their hearts out. That was really cool to see.”
The volleyball team spirit can mainly be attributed to the self-dubbed Big Four fans; seniors Cecilia Burke, Connor Curtis, Mark Puleo, and Sean Quirk. From the beginning of the season, the Big Four set out to attend as many volleyball games as possible and root on their friends. Soon, other students took notice and volleyball games became a hit. The fandom did its part, as the volleyball team rallied around its senior leadership from Wang, Rita Pierce, Sam O’Connor, Emma Duggan, and Sarah Curran to earn their very first playoff berth in school history.
Their first round game was played in Westwood, over an hour away. But that certainly didn’t stop Nashoba diehards. Puleo and Curtis stood and screamed the whole game, accompanied by a star appearance from Dr. Parry Graham. The ladies fought valiantly through three sets and made a huge comeback bid in the final set, a feat that is much more impressive when realizing Nashoba was the 13th seed facing the 4th seed.
Transition hereThe biggest successes of the fall belong to the cross country and cheerleading teams. The girls cross country team sent two runners to the All-State meet, headed by super-sophomore Rylee Gillen who placed an astounding 6th in the state. The boys team continued their tradition of domination by extending their winning streak to over 30 wins and then going on to surprise “experts” and upset the heavyweights from Wachusett by qualifying for All-States as an entire team via their top three finish in the District meet, a competition between all teams in central Massachusetts. The team went on to place in the top ten at All-States, headed by outstanding races and seasons from Mark Puleo and Adam Heislein. The cheerleading squad has also had a season for the ages. By advancing to states this year, this year’s unit becomes the very first team in Nashoba history to do so.
“While we may not have the star-power of the football team or the soccer teams, we work just as hard and it has been an amazing season,” said senior cheerleading captain Kat Angevine. “Seeing people show up to watch our competitions was really cool, I had never seen fans come to our things before.”
Angevine’s testimonial rings true across every sport at Nashoba regarding fan support. Field Hockey, who returned to the postseason for the second season in a row, saw great success on and off the field this year too, “…even though we didn’t advance as far in the playoffs as we would’ve liked,” senior captain goalie Bridget Boyle said, “I couldn’t have asked for a better senior year. The fans who came on the pink night was great to see… I just loved being on this team this year.”
Even cross country, who has their meets at an offsite location, saw unprecedented support. Despite the fact that she was hampered by a bothersome hamstring injury that derailed her final running season, girls cross country captain Kelsey Horowitz marveled at the spike in support this season.
“People would come up to me during the day and congratulate me on my race after hearing the morning announcements, that certainly never happened before this season,” she said. “I loved it.”