The deafening sound of silence in the student section


Photo provided by the Rowdies Instagram

The last 15 posts from the Rowdies Instagram feature male athletes as the cover photo.

Mary Catherine Colo & May Lewis, Online Editor, Staff Writer

    Imagine yourself in the midst of a big match or game. You are exhausted, giving your all to the sport you love, and you look to the stands in hope of some support. You expect to see a screaming crowd, full of your peers cheering you to victory, but instead you see empty seats and are fully aware of the silence. To some, this may seem like an anomaly, but to many RJ Reynolds athletes, this is the reality. 

    RJR has an active presence on social media, that generally spreads the word when different teams are competing, but this doesn’t always generate a large crowd. Junior Elliot Jessup is a small forward on the RJR women’s basketball team. She finds that even though the school tries to promote their team, people are not really aware of the team’s success. 

    “A lot of students don’t know the girls’ team is pretty good this year, I feel like the student body does a mediocre job at coming to our games, but it’s usually just a handful of students who come to our games,” Jessup said. 

    With a record of 18-10, the girls were first in the conference. This team consists of many talented players, all of which carry the mindset and skill of other competitive teams in the state. Unfortunately, attention is primarily directed toward the men’s team, even though the women’s team record (18-10) is far better than the men’s (8-18) record.

    Senior Raniyah Hocutt is a center on the women’s basketball team. She believes that her team deserves the recognition of the student body and would have loved to see more people in the stands.

    “As a female student-athlete I would love to see as many students pack the gym out for the girl’s basketball games just as they do the boys,” Hocutt said. “I’m sure they’ll get their money’s worth because the Lady Demons always put on a show.”

    Wyatt Mowery is a senior captain of the men’s basketball team and four-year varsity player. He believes that both the school and student body support the team through their entire season, through both wins and losses.

    “I think the school has done a good job of representing us and I feel like the students do a good job of supporting us, especially against schools like Tabor or Reagan,” Mowery said. 

    This begs the question, why don’t students attend the girl’s games? There are many possible explanations, including the time the girls play or the lack of social media posts this team receives. When looking at the times the girls play, it is usually around 6-6:30 which is typically when other athletes finish practice. So driving from practice to a game is not always top of mind.

     The RJR student section, also known as the Rowdies, has senior presidents or leaders that demonstrate school spirit loudly throughout the school. One job the Rowdies are in charge of is posting on social media about sports events including both men’s and women’s sports. But when looking at social media, it mostly displays men’s sports and lacks acknowledgment of women’s teams. This does not mean the Rowdies don’t mention the women’s games; it’s just always second to the men.  

    When it comes to RJR team recognition, lacrosse is often left in the dust. Although the school does promote the team, players often feel they are not recognized enough. Both the men’s and women’s teams last year won the Central Piedmont Conference (CPC) tournament with a very challenging schedule, but many students are unaware of the success of the two teams. 

    Senior captain Emma Gray believes students don’t show up to sports that aren’t football and basketball.

    “I think that a lot less people care about field hockey and girl’s lacrosse because it’s not football or basketball,” Gray said. “Although, we definitely have a better winning streak than some of the hyped-up sports teams at Reynolds.”

    She goes on to say that she wishes more people would come out and support the team because it motivates the team to perform better.

    “I love when students come out to our games, we always try and encourage people to come and watch through our social media account,” Gray said. “Everyone on the team seems to play better because we all are more motivated when we have a crowd cheering for us.”

    Warner Grubbs is a senior lacrosse and football player, as well as a co-Rowdies president. He believes the students come out and support the mainstream sports but lacks in showing out for sports like lacrosse. 

    “I think the school does a great job of recognizing the football team, but not the lacrosse team.” Grubbs said. “I think the Reynolds boys lacrosse team is the premier program at this school and the lack of recognition we get is ridiculous to me,” Grubbs said. 

    The football team has not had the most favorable record in recent seasons. They finished 7th in their conference of eight teams, with only two wins after the 2022 Fall season. Grubbs believes that despite the team’s challenges, people should still go to the games, which they typically do. 

    “I think no matter the record of your football team you should always go to the Friday night football games because it is one of the core memories of your high school experience,” Grubbs said.

    Support for mainstream sports is shown in the student section for the men’s basketball games and football games, but what about the sports that aren’t well known? 

    Tennis is a good example. The 2022 women’s tennis team finished 2nd in the conference and players like Ally MacCorkle had an exceptional record (12-1) in singles last season. Students may not notice the success of the tennis team, but MacCorkle says people tend to gather. 

    “Playing in Hanes Park, there are always people walking by who stop by and watch us,” MacCorkle said. 

    Sophomore Sarah Rhodes Cox is a returning varsity player for the women’s tennis team that also notices the absence of the student body. 

    “I think the school does a good job recognizing teams and bringing awareness, however the student body doesn’t get out to a whole lot of our games,” Cox said.  

    School sports may be advertised, but in the case of women’s tennis, it does nothing to encourage the student body to get out and support their peers. 

    Although these sports might not be what people picture as typical “high school sports,” it is important to recognize the success of every RJR team. Even sports like soccer, which has in the past gotten decent crowds, still lacks a student section when it comes to games that are not against RJR’s biggest rivals. 

    Senior Bouldin Fain is the goalie of the boys varsity soccer team and believes that students only really show out in big games.

    “The student body does a decent job making it out to Bolton and supporting but only big games had a student section really,” Fain said. “We had a few students that would come to all of them but not too many unless it was a big game.”

    One thing is clear-RJR owns Forsyth County athletics- but the athletes are often overlooked by their peers. It is important to recognize the effort our athletes put in to dominate the CPC, so as a community we must address the discrepancies in support for all sports. So next time you walk into a conversation regarding Reynolds sports, mention the success of all teams. The record of one sport does not define the success of the RJR athletic program. A loss in a rivalry game does not take away the effort of every RJR athlete. Athletes like Hocutt, Jessup, MacCorkle, Fain, and Gray deserve screams, signs, and encouragement every time they compete because everyone knows the atmosphere can change everything. We all need someone to cheer us on, to motivate us to be better. This includes when teams may not be as successful, but here’s the thing about RJR athletics; every team is exceptional. Show your support for your peers by attending the next soccer game, or reposting the win of the lacrosse team. Get Rowdy because every season is Demon Szn.