Students suggest alternatives for earning overalls

Top photo senior Skylar Borerhave.

Tiger Nation: Striped overalls, face paint and everything red, white and black. Since the position of a student section leader was contrived by the students themselves, the definition of what makes a student section leader varies from person to person. In this second installment, the tradition of handing down the overalls will be explored. Next week, the representation of Tiger Nation on social media will be discussed.

Year to year, the red and white striped overalls that hang from the bodies of sweaty teenage boys secure their place in the front row of bleachers at the UNI Dome. At the end of each year, these cherished, yet slightly tarnished pants are passed down to four new individuals of the up and coming senior class. “The leaders before us chose who would get the overalls,” student section leader and graduate Lucas DeWitt said. DeWitt said he passed it down to graduate Jacob Grinstead because he was told to by the other student section leaders. 

It’s been tradition that each year the overalls are handed down from the previous leaders. While some students find that concerning, Principal Jason Wedgbury said the tradition is not one that administration is looking to change. “We have to make enough decisions. I don’t know that I’m looking to control or get involved with how student leaders are determined. I mean, they are what they are,” Wedgbury said. “I think sometimes the student body has to work itself out that way. I don’t think that we should oversee who our student leaders are.” 

Activities Director Troy Becker said that since he and administration have no control on how the leaders are passed down, his excitement for who these leaders are changes from year to year. “I can say over the 12 years I’ve been in administration there’s some people they’ll pass it down to to that I’ll be ‘that’s awesome.’ There’s other people they’ll pass it down to who I’m like ‘Oh my goodness. I’m a little worried about that one,’” he said.

Becker said the last several years the student section leaders have been great at events. “We have had tremendous leaders, very positive, good sportsmanship-type of leaders.” 

Based on the results of a Tiger Hi-Line survey, some students see no problem with how the overalls are handed down now. Junior Jacob Meester said that the overalls should be handed down to the juniors who showed up and showed out. “Previous student section leaders should choose those who they thought showed the most spirit and had the best attendance to all games,” Meester said. 

Other students who aren’t as pleased with the tradition of handing the overalls down suggested multiple different alternatives. Some other options students have contemplated are having students vote, letting varsity coaches choose candidates or even conducting a Twitter poll on the Tiger Nation social media page.

Senior Mia Dexter said it’s important for the leaders to embody what Tiger Nation is at every sport and during every season. “I think we should take a vote on who could best represent what a good leader is. Also, they should also care about all of Cedar Falls’ sports, not just football and men’s basketball. There are a lot of other sports that need and would love the schools’ support,” Dexter said.

Becker said that one way of changing how the leaders are passed down is turning the responsibility over to administration. “Potentially, it’s just a matter if the student section and their leaders want to turn it over to the counselors or someone like myself to help with the selection process. Right now it’s just pretty much people coming forward to the previous leaders saying, ‘I want to do it next year.’” 

DeWitt agreed with altering the system and said it shouldn’t just be the student section leaders  focusing on “popularity or who is friends with who.”

DeWitt said we should get more student body involved. “I don’t think administration should but it also shouldn’t just be the leaders. There are a lot of people I feel that are very capable of showing school spirit the right way, but should be between all the students. Maybe Senior Leadership helps,” he said. 

Agreeing with Dexter and Becker that the student section leaders should be voted on, rather than picked by the previous leaders, senior Sofia Muñoz said that Tiger Nation isn’t currently living up to her standards of what an ideal student section should look like. “I am deterred from going to sporting events because I know that the section will just disappoint me. After being shushed by previous section leaders and even told to leave the section for cheering for my team because I was ‘too loud,’ I want my perception of Tiger Nation to be renewed,” Muñoz said. “As section leaders, people are supposed to be able to get loud, stay loud and keep energy up whether we are winning or losing. That is not a reality for us right now.” 

Adding on to that, Muñoz recognizes that girls are not well represented when it comes to being student section leaders. “Girls can get just as hyped up as the guys, and many times even more so. Putting more representation in who represents the students will give the section as a whole a more diverse and representative aspect to the section. This will encourage more people to attend games and will give a new perspective to how the section is run,” Muñoz said. 

Becker said that some girls tend to take on the role of being a student section leader during certain games or seasons, but normally it is the boys who are given the title. Nearby high schools such as Waverly Shell-Rock, Bettendorf and Janesville all have female student section leaders representing their respective schools.

DeWitt, who graduated in 2017, said during his years in high school the student section leaders were always an “male identifying student.” 

As a vocal leader in the student section, senior Abbie Lyman is one female student that multiple students have said they’d elect to wear the overalls if it was a decision to be voted on. At the state volleyball championship match, Lyman wore the overalls and ultimately cheered the team on to victory. “I wore the overalls at state volleyball because the seniors and student section leaders believed I was well deserving of them. I do get pretty rowdy at games, sometimes even more than the leaders. The overalls were actually Jackson Barth’s but I believe Caiden Barnett ( senior) is the person who asked Barth if I could wear them,” Lyman said.

Lyman said she still has the striped pants and wishes to sport them again soon. “I actually still have the overalls. I haven’t been able to make it to basketball sadly because wrestling sort of consumed my time, but they will be worn again by me,” Lyman said.

Wanting more female representation, Lyman said she wishes there were female student section leaders without losing the boys’ overall tradition. “I do not wish that girls were handed down the overalls. I think that starting a new tradition with girl leaders would be way more beneficial than just giving one girl a pair of overalls,” Lyman said. “I think giving four girls camo pants or white overalls to decorate would be a good idea, but I think limiting it to four girls just like with boys would make it more fair to the boys and girls to keep everything equal

Wanting to balance the scales between the boys and girls, Lyman said the current leaders do a great job that she thinks girls could only add on to. “I wish girls could be considered section leaders in the future but I think the boys do really well with Tiger Nation,” Lyman said.

Senior section leader Derek Garcia said Lyman provides great energy to everyone in the student section and also hypes him up too. “Abbie is a very down to earth person who always brings lots of positive energy and a loud voice to the games. She also has tons of spirit. She’s super fun to be around and represents Tiger Nation in such a positive way,” Garcia said. “She’s definitely a role model for younger grades. She’s also led some chants which were very good.”

In the middle photo from left, senior Jack Moody, Cade McCann, and Kole Latusick cheer on football team in student section.

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