School spirit in Hart Gymnasium reached fishnet stocking proportions this fall.
Redefining support through an array of attire and antics, members of the off-season men’s volleyball team became known in the Laser community as the “IVC super fans” as they cheered their female counterparts on to a 22-1 finish.
“We are really close with the girls team,” said MVP of the men’s 2007 state championship team Peter Johnson, “so we thought that it would be fun to support them in a special/fun/outrageous way, as well as try to annoy the other team and get them off their game.”
Fins, wings, capes, tights, glasses and bow ties decked the group of nine supporters, who brought a joke in math class to life by dawning their findings from Costume Castle and Goodwill in the stands of key matches.
The idea, sparked by masterminds Kaleo Baxter and Matty Mallon the Monday before the first match-up against Fullerton, was intended to be fun, amusing and encouraging.
“What sparked the idea of us dressing up was that because our girls are in such a tough conference; they play hard matches almost every night,” Baxter said. “And with us there, possibly we could have got into the other teams head. And we would like to think that most times we did!”
The men didn’t limit their mission to attire. Leading chants, launching beach balls through the stands and blaring unusual instruments also became part of the rowdy band’s namesake.
“It was another way for us to make them smile,” Baxter said. “We’d like to think that we pumped them up when we walked into the gym.”
The only theme was random and outrageous. The only criteria was to stand out in a crowd and make people laugh.
One article in particular became a regular in the stands. Johnson’s bonnet-like straw hat, which became known to the Lasers crowd as the “volley-hat” joined Johnson to every match he attended, whether home or away, and never to anywhere but the women’s games.
“When the girls were on their incredible streak, some of the parents told me that if me and the volley-hat weren’t there, they would blame it on me if the girls lost,” Johnson said.
“That’s how much of a part we were with the girls and the fans.”
While future opponents may not be anticipating their visit to Hart Gymnasium with much eagerness, those the group represents look upon their biggest fans with appreciation.
“Having the boys at our games helped us more than anyone could imagine,” said freshman Camryn Torromeo. “There were a few tight games where I feel like having them there supporting us were key parts to our success.”
“All the boys are close friends of ours and knowing that they supported us gave us confidence to play well,” added outside hitter Marilena Guadagnini.”We always knew when the boys were going to dress up, but it was always a surprise to see what they would be wearing.”
The Lasers season may have ended, but the crew is sure that Hart Gymnasium hasn’t seen its last pair of fishnet stockings.
“The girls team is going to dress up for our matches, so we are sure to have some more fun matches with outrageous costume,” Johnson said.