‘Lifelong Gryphons’

Bleachers Creatures encourage student, alumni spirit

Students participate in “the roller coaster” at the football state championship. The Gryphons proceeded to win the state title in front of over 220 students.

The Bleacher Creatures weren’t about to let a fence at an away football game keep them from celebrating a St. George’s win.

Even though St. George’s students had been told that they were not allowed to run on the field to celebrate after the 38-21 win over Briarcrest on Aug. 28, they still found a way to support the team.

The students stood on one side of the fence and linked arms with the Gryphon football team on the other side, and the Bleacher Creatures led the tradition of singing and swaying to “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show, which was played on one student’s wireless speaker.

“That was a moment where there’s an obstacle in front of us, and they figured out a way to make it happen in a respectful way,” Athletic Director Mr. Tom Densford said.

“Being a person who saw it happen, I think that was really cool.”

The group’s mission is to create a strong sense of school spirit and support for student athletes through positive encouragement, and this large show of support at an away game was a clear sign that the Bleacher Creatures have been succeeding at exactly that.

The group is led by a group of seniors, including Prefect of Spirit Will Courtney. Courtney said that the small attendance of athletic events last year inspired him to create the group and, after trying out several different names in a summer brainstorming session, the Bleacher Creatures were born.

“Last year everyone knew there was a lack of spirit and participation from the student body,” Courtney said. “I care so much about it and wanted to make a difference.”

Senior Will Patterson, one of the other leaders of the Bleacher Creatures, agreed that there was a noticeable need for larger attendance at sporting events, adding that a crowd can play an important role in a team’s success.

“Playing for a lively crowd is always a great feeling,” Patterson said. “It is an all-around good time for both the fans and the players.”

Through tailgates, hype videos and customized noise-makers, including duck calls, vuvuzelas and cow bells, the Bleacher Creatures have led the school spirit at St. George’s.

“The difference in attendance last year and this year is huge,” Mr. Densford said. “The number of not just students, but adults who don’t have children playing, has increased. People just coming to watch the game has increased.”

In a mere week, students from the Collierville campus filled four fan buses and allowed over 220 students to attend the football state championship on Thursday, Dec. 3. That night the Gryphons went on to win the state title 50-20.

“We truly do owe it to [the students] for cheering us on all the way to the state championship,” senior football player Jake Lindow said in an email to the upper school. “I know we could not have done it without [their] support.”

Members of the St. George’s community may find this year’s athletic attendance reminiscent of St. George’s in earlier years. In 2007, alumni Elliot Williams and Laurence Bowers starred on the varsity basketball team, and they garnered so much support that fire marshals attended the games in order to ensure that the large crowds were not a fire hazard. Those games are still distinctly remembered today, eight years later, by both current and past members of the St. George’s community.

Similarly, Mr. Densford hopes that the athletic department and Bleacher Creatures will help provide experiences that will be memorable in the future to members of the St. George’s community, even after student leaders have graduated.

“We want our teams to have support, but we also to be able to help create memories,” Mr. Densford said. “That school spirit lives on because that’s what builds lifelong Gryphons.”