The Roar of the Den Hopes to get Louder


“Here we go Latrobe, Here we go!” The fully packed den chanted. The roars from the stadium, the band in full force, the cheerleaders pumped up, and the rumble of the den cheering on their high school football team on a Friday night after a long five day school week. Last year Drew Clair, as a junior, looked forward to this feeling, the den filled to the top of the stands, every set of eyes looking down on him, relying on him to lead the cheers and the chants. As he went into his senior year, he was hopeful that he would be able to embody this feeling and have the opportunity to lead the Wildcat den. Throughout the crazy year of 2020, all of that changed. 

Last year when COVID struck our country, high school sports changed and have continued to be affected by the Coronavirus pandemic, even moving forward into a new school year and sports season. With the rules and world constantly changing day by day, no spectators are allowed unless permitted with a wristband from a player, cheerleader, or band member. This left the cheerleaders cheering to a nearly empty crowd, the band playing simply to the guys on the field, and the section of the bleachers where the wildcat den should be cheering on their team completely empty. 

On a warm September Friday night, a group of seniors made the best out of their final year by getting together to have a viewing party to cheer on their Wildcat Football team who took on Mount Pleasant. Individuals brought tailgating food, watched the Wildcats on Westmoreland Sports Network, and enjoyed their memories together, as a Wildcat Den they cheered on their team from a screen. 

Drew Clair was disappointed with what this year had become with the changes but remained optimistic. Clair says, “With this year being restricted, we decided to make the best out of the current situation. We love cheering on all the guys and showing our support all together whether it is from the stands or not.”

After the win, the group of seniors wanted to celebrate alongside the team. The den greeted the victorious players at the high school to celebrate. The players were overwhelmingly surprised with joy when they saw their peers. 

Center and defensive tackle senior Chooch Aiello plays for the fans. Even though they cannot sit in the stands, the fanatics are still making the players feel loved. Aiello says, “It was awesome to see everyone there after the game, cheering us on even though they can’t do it during the game” 

The following Friday, as it should have been the first official home football game of the Wildcats senior year, the group gathered once again to support the boys on the home field in downtown Latrobe at Memorial Stadium. The fans tailgated at Legion Keener, grilling hot dogs, playing corn hole, and getting fired up for the game while still remaining hopeful that they would get to enter through those familiar gates. 

The den leaders talked to the 11/12 principal, high school athletic director, as well as resource officers at the game about being allowed into the stadium. With the game schedule constantly being up in the air, the administration  expressed that hopefully by the end of the season the stands would be filled. The fans cheered through the chain linked fence hoping the players would hear their roars. 

At this point Governor Wolf has allowed individual schools to adjust the capacity of fans allowed into events. Drew Clair intends to attempt to get students into the away game at Connellsville on Friday October 9, since schools can now adjust capacity, with consideration that people are correctly wearing masks and social distancing. With Pennsylvania’s new adaptation that allows schools to be able to determine how many fans will be permitted into each sporting event, students, especially seniors, are hopeful to experience a game in real time, cheering the wildcats. “Here we go Latrobe, Here we go!”