I’ve covered high school sports amid the factories of small-town Pennsylvania, the farms or rural Indiana and now, the swaying palm trees of coastal Florida.
There aren’t many commonalities. Pennsylvania revolves around wrestling, the folks in Indiana live for their hoops, and people down here love their pigskin.
The food is different. The traffic is different. Thankfully, the weather is different.
One thing, however, links them all:
Girls prep teams can chant. All of them — volleyball teams, field hockey teams and softball teams.
It was all I heard walking toward Braden River’s softball field Tuesday night, and it was all I heard while covering a field hockey tournament in Pennsylvania nearly 10 years ago.
What stood out to me that day was one team started chanting before it even got off the bus. The players kept chanting before the bus even stopped.
They were the Delone Catholic Squirettes. And they wanted anyone within 50 feet of the bus to know it.
(Oh, that poor bus driver ...)
I remember covering a tense postseason softball game where a coach, pitcher and catcher conducted a meeting inside the circle.
Members of the hitting team didn’t just hum the theme to “Jeopardy!” — they put their own words to the melody, asking those involved to break the meeting and get back to softball.
I laughed. I have a hunch, however, that the catcher who glanced at the dugout as if it were stuffed with dirty gym socks didn’t find it as amusing as I did.
Typically, I’m not a fan of this sort of thing. But I’ve come to realize some of the teams that chant the best play the best, and I don’t think it’s coincidence.
Every batter has their own song, sort of like their own personal intro music. Consequently, each girl needs to know whose up so they know what song to sing, meaning each girl needs to keep her head in the game.
This keeps the girls interested, keeps them in it. Whether they’re batting fourth or riding the pine, players have a chance to be involved in some sort of team activity, and it serves to make everyone better.
I’ve never seen a boys team do anything like this, and I don’t think I ever will. Or maybe I will. Covering high school sports since 2001 has done a number on my surprise reflex — it takes quite a bit to shock me.
Regardless of zip code, time zone or region, girls prep teams all know to chant, know how to celebrate and most importantly, know how to win.
The ones who chant the best are typically the ones who win the most.
That never changes, and probably never will.