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Northview High School rallied the community and students for a spirited send-off of the Wildcat hockey team as it prepared to leave Thursday for the state hockey semifinals in Columbus.
More than 1,000 students along with parents, grandparents, and school administrators, teachers, and staff packed the main gym for the pep rally. The high school band drummed out fight songs, and the crowd was buzzing with excitement in anticipation of the hockey team's entrance.
The event's emcees kicked off the festivities. Teacher Mike Czerniakowski floated in on an ice resurfacer. He and counselor Jodi Hess revved up the crowd for the team's entrance.
Assistant coaches Steve Elliott and Dour Carter urged those in the bleachers to chant a powerful cheer.
"We are Northview" echoed from one side of the gym to the other.
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Supporters had donned yellow and black, the school colors, in celebration of the hockey team that will take on Powell Olentangy Liberty Friday afternoon at the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s State Ice Hockey Tournament. The winners of that match will head onto the finals Saturday.
Students formed an arch with their bodies and hands for the teammates to run through as players entered the gym.
Then, the players stood side by side displaying their solidarity with yellow dyed hair and T-shirts that proclaimed "GET GREASY."
“Get greasy means we need to get in there and play hockey, it doesn’t have to be pretty,” Mr. Carter said.
Yellow hair could be considered a start of a colorful tradition: after Northview won the Ohio High School Athletic Association State Ice Hockey Tournament last year, the team members dyed their hair yellow.
Coach Mike Jones spoke to the team, knocking down doubts that they could not win, especially when they are compared to the area's parochial teams.
“This team has been told we can’t do it. We can’t win. But we thrive off of that,” Mr. Jones said, referring to their rivals at St. John's, whom they beat out last week, earning a trip to the semi-finals or Frozen Four.
The crowd quieted down when the lights dimmed for a video highlighting the team's season. The video started in black and white, and ended in color with the players dancing the Harlem Shake.
But before the students went back to class, they cheered on the Northview teachers, who challenged the district's principals to a little game of hockey. Like true fans the teachers had their hair dyed yellow by the cosmetology students that morning. The teachers lost 3-1; the students left buzzing with confidence.
Mr. Jones, team coach for five years, said their success is because they play as a team.
"No one was quiet. My ears were ringing when I left," Austin Micham said. Mr. Micham a Northview junior who will be on student government next year, helped plan the pep rally, and was pleased with the student participation.
"Our student section was the loudest, louder than last year," Mr. Micham said. He added that this year's hockey team has rallied, despite being told they would not live up to last year's standards, and predictions that St. John's would win the state title.
"Our goalie, David Marsh, has lived up to the standards of last year's goalie, Austin Gryca," Mr. Micham said.
"This is a group of 20 kids banded together, it’s not about one of them, or two of them, they play as a team,” Mr. Jones said after the pep rally. He explained that this is something that Sylvania, not just Northview, should be proud.
“How neat is it to see the community come together for this. Last year we had students from Southview attend the game and it is an experience they will remember...This is a Sylvania thing,” Mr. Jones said.
After the pep rally, the team jumped aboard a decorated charter bus, and before leaving for Columbus the players visited Sylvania schools to meet with fans there.
If the Northview hockey team wins semi-finals, they will advance to the finals on Saturday.
Friday classes at Northview have been canceled.
Contact Natalie Trusso Cafarello at: firstname.lastname@example.org and 419-206-0356.