HB may not see “The Swamp” this fall


Marc-Andre Thermitus ‘21 goes to celebrate with the HB student section after winning the state championship game. “[The fans] were a huge part of playing that game, just the fact that so many people were willing to sit through that weather to support us really made a difference,” said Blake Bergerson ‘21

Brandon Hsu, Staff Writer

On October 16, Hollis Brookline football will play against Timberlane in their first home game of the year. However, what is informally called “The Swamp,” HB football’s student section, may have to wait to make its first appearance at the turf field until next year. With the absence of a normally large student section, this year’s games will surely be different from years past.  


In the past, HB has been known for one of the loudest fan sections in the state for all sports. This has to do with the athletic success HB has had in recent years, but also the involvement students have in the athletics program. Last year in the pouring rain and strong winds, HB fans sat through four quarters of the championship football game to see the team take home its first banner in the program’s history. “[The fans] were a huge part of playing that game, just the fact that so many people were willing to sit through that weather to support us really made a difference.” said Blake Bergerson ‘21, a senior captain on the team. 


This fall, each player and coach on the football team will receive two tickets to each game to give to their friends or family. While there is still the opportunity for students to be at the game, most players barely have enough tickets to give to their family. “I usually give my tickets to my mom and grandpa, but then my dad, brother, and grandma can’t go to the game,” said Bergerson. It’s a little different for volleyball though. Each player is given two tickets, but they can only be given to their family members. “We’re the only Division 1 team in the school so we’re going with the Division 1 format, whereas all the other teams are following the same protocol for Division 2” said teacher and Head Volleyball Coach Rebecca Balfour. Division 1 wants to keep the fan section relatively closed considering they compete with schools with over 3,000 students, like Pinkerton Academy, compared to the smaller schools in Division 2.


For a team that has won the state championship four out of the last five years, this will bring an entirely new atmosphere to games this fall. “Our fans are very supportive and they add more energy when we’re on the court. Without them, it’s harder to stay hyped up and maintain a positive attitude,” said returning senior Emily Dreyer ‘21. This leaves the cheering to the parents and family of the HB team. Despite the lack of fan support, the team is off to a 3-0 start, beating defending champ, Nashua South, in their first game of the season. “Our parents were fantastic. The parents and family who were there were super loud. Our team this year, the energy is off the hook,” explained Coach Balfour. Along with the parents, members of the team who are on the bench have stepped up to make up for some of the missing noise. “They are trying to make up for the fans that we are missing but it’s not the same as last season. It sucks that we can’t have fans for our last year,” said Dreyer.


Unlike the volleyball team’s hot start, the football team has dropped their first two games, 20-0 and 28-26, respectively. In the season opener versus local rival, Souhegan, who was ranked #1 in the preseason, HB struggled to stop the run game and generate yards on offense. “It was completely different from last year, it didn’t feel like the same at all when it comes to noise level,” said Bergerson. In the following week, some more student fans were at the game versus Milford, which came down to the wire, but HB lost picking up their second of the season. “There was definitely more energy on the field, but still nothing like last year,” said Bergerson.


Good fan sections lead to school spirit and a positive atmosphere throughout the halls of HBHS. Looking back on past championship games, Balfour said, “You look up there in the fan section and it’s just very sweet. Seeing the sea of school colors. They are just off the hook with the support, with the school spirit. So yeah, it makes a huge difference and we’ve been fortunate to be blessed with really good fan spirit.” The day after a win brings a different type of energy to the building, almost as if students and players are anticipating the next big game ahead.


By far the loudest fan sections in HB’s recent years have come in playoff games. “We’ve had two or three fan buses taking our students to the games and then kids driving and meeting us there,” said Balfour. Although the current precautions may carry over into playoffs this fall, Bergerson hopes for a change. “You can take temperatures before they enter. You can advise to keep distance. There’s just so many ways that there could be a normal fan section. If we can be in school for hours, why are people not allowed to attend a football game that is outside and following regulations?” he explained. The start of the year seemed to all unfold within a span of a couple short weeks, which may not have given the time needed to plan this out, but potentially in the coming weeks, we could see “The Swamp” back in action.


More than anything, Coach Balfour and the volleyball team are grateful to be playing through the COVID-19 pandemic. She tells her players, “every practice that we have is a gift. Every match that we have is a gift,” and even as far as saying, “this could be your season,” during their annual volleyball camp in the summer. Many schools aren’t as fortunate as HB to be in-person and actually going to school everyday, nevermind playing interscholastic sports. “It’s different, but this whole season is different. This is ‘COVID 2020’ so we’re just so grateful to be playing and to have games,” Balfour said about the uncertain times ahead.


The volleyball team looks to continue to blow out teams moving steadily into their third week of competitive play, while the football team looks to bounce back and get in the win column in week 3. None of us can know what a year like 2020 has in store for fall sports moving forward. Either way, look for both teams to make a run in the playoffs and take up more space on the gym walls with two more banners.