By Calli Newberry
Nine of a record-tying 27 applicants remain in this year’s MHSAA Battle of the Fans contest, and for the third time, Yale High School is one of them.
“It’s nice because this seemed to be a big deal in 2015,” senior Kate Lossing said. “That’s when a lot of us were in junior high, and we were a part of it, so we wanted to bring it back this year.”
Lossing and her fellow classmates in the student section call themselves the “Kohlers Krazies,” a name that began several years ago when the Bulldogs claimed back-to-back district titles under head coach Garnett Kohler in 2015 and 2016, the same years they became Battle of the Fans semifinalists.
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“Coach Kohler was our coach back in 2015 and in that era, our team was very, very good,” Lossing said. “Once he came back as coach, we wanted to bring that legacy back, especially with the student section.”
Kohler left the helm of the program after the 2017 season, but he returned last year. Unfortunately, statewide attendance restrictions prevented the Kohlers Krazies from joining him. This year, however, they’re back and ready to compete as one of the best student sections in the state.
To enter the contest, schools had to submit a video via TikTok with clips of their student sections in action during games so far throughout the year. Yale’s video was a “Yale High School Studio News Special Report Sports Extra” produced by the school’s audio-visual club, of which Lossing is a member.
“We started an audiovisual club at school this year to do our daily announcements so I’m just a part of that and brought the camera,” she said. “It’s really fun. I like seeing it all come together.”
Their video now has nearly 2100 views on TikTok. It featured hundreds of high school and middle school students cheering during football and basketball games.
On Monday morning, the students learned their video made the top nine as the MHSAA announced the finalists on Twitter, and on Tuesday night, they rallied the Krazies for a home game against Imlay City.
The theme for the game was a white-out, and many wore white shirts that said “The pack is back.” They brought in banners, pom poms, necklaces, bandanas, and even Spike – the school’s bulldog mascot.
“I was kind of forced into it, but I took the job,” freshman Ryan Fisher said while wearing the mascot costume. “It’s very hot and you can’t see much. I just walk around, yell, and start chants.”
He was a good sport about it and wore the suit with pride.
While Tuesday’s game was by no means a sellout crowd, the northwest corner of the bleachers was packed with students in matching white shirts, all standing and cheering under a banner that says, “The pack. All hail Yale.”
Lossing and fellow senior Braxton Shutko went around with camera and microphone in hand conducting interviews during halftime. Every timeout was filled with cheers like, “Y-A-L-E. Yale! Yale! Yale.” Even head football coach Garrett Grudnman participated by leading a cheer during one of the timeouts.
“It’s pretty fun, we’re doing pretty good right now,” Fisher said about the contest. “We’ve had two top-five finishes, so we’re trying to get to the finals.”
Perhaps one of the best parts of the Kohlers Krazies, however, was the school pride they showed after the game, as about a dozen students stuck around to help clean up the bleachers. They picked up trash and dismantled railings to help the administration and custodial staff prepare for the next game.
The Kohlers Krazies have until Jan. 22 before they learn if they qualify as one of the three finalists on Saturday, Jan. 22. Until then, they, along with the other eight semifinalists, have to complete five mandatory challenges:
- Show photos and videos from at least three games
- Show a favorite cheer or chant
- Show how they’ve supported other teams, not just boys basketball
- Create a video based on a current TikTok
- Get the entire student section to participate in a theme
There are also 15 additional challenges that are optional, such as involving school administrators, collaborating with the visiting team, or taking a road trip for an away game.
Videos of the Kohlers Krazies student section can be found on TikTok either at KohlersKrazies or MHSAASports.