Paul Mayes can always be counted on to deliver a massive dose of green and gold spirit to his classmates.
The Tracy High senior, captain of the soccer team and a dedicated member of the Dog Pound student cheering section, appeared at last week’s football game against Kimball High wearing a green inflatable parachute-like outfit, making him the Bulldogs’ biggest fan — in terms of both volume and enthusiasm.
“I’ve always run a little bit overboard,” Mayes said. “If you go a little bit overboard, people say, ‘Let’s go to that point.’ You just keep raising the bar, and people keep trying to meet it.”
The idea is to get the Dog Pound fired up for Tracy High’s sports rivalries.
The Dog Pound is run by the high school’s leadership class. It’s a group of about 40 students who paint the signs, hand out the pompoms and big “#1” foam fingers ,and find someone to wear the costume of Brutus, the school mascot.
They also spend the week leading up to the big game recruiting students to dress up in their wildest green and gold attire.
Senior Michelle Andrade, the associated student body vice president, said a display of school spirit translates to an abiding love for all things Bulldog.
“Once freshmen see our Dog Pound and see how spirited we are and how crazy we are with face paint, they see that environment and want to be a part of it,” she said. “Getting a lot of kids shouting and spirited and crazy, so we can show West and Kimball our spirit, is big to us. We’re going to try to get a lot of kids there.”
Chaz Briggs, a junior fullback and linebacker for the football team and a Dog Pound member the rest of the year, said the cheering section provides a big boost for the team, which feeds off the noise of the crowd.
“If you don’t have the Dog Pound, you can’t really hear it,” he said, adding that the support will be especially important against West.
“It’s going to be for the trophy of the town,” Briggs said. “It’s going to be a big game.”
Blue Crew provides spark for West
West High’s Blue Crew might look like a spontaneous explosion of Wolf Pack enthusiasm, but a core group of dedicated students brings order to the blue and gold fan base.
For a big event like the Crosstown Classic football game against Tracy High, which rivals homecoming for displays of school spirit, West’s Blue Crew captains from the 32-student leadership class provide the initial spark.
West senior Celina Carrisosa said the effort to get the Wolf Pack out for the game expands as each week goes on, trying to get more fans to support the football team.
“We have 300 names and we’re calling everybody, texting everybody, telling them all the information, because we want them to be just as spirited,” Carrisosa said. “It’s going to be a lot of people. It’s definitely going to be a lot bigger this time.”
Members of the leadership class spent the week painting signs and finding teens to pitch in — like freshman Audrey Romo, who carried the big “West” flag at the Kimball game, and others who will dress up as “Wolfie,” the school
The leadership classroom is also where students will find the costumes and body paint that give the Blue Crew its colors.
Senior Martin Garcia, who plays fullback and linebacker on the football team and is the associated student body’s communications commissioner, said the fans pump up the players on the field.
“When we’re on the field, it brings a lot more emotions and brings up the players,” he said. “The game, it means a lot. It’s crosstown rivalry. It’s the biggest game of the year for us.”
The Blue Crew is also a venue in which West’s older students are eager to pass fan traditions to the younger crowd.
“I have a crazy class,” Carrisosa said. “I have one of the loudest, craziest, outgoing classes. It’s been like that all four years with us.
But she said this year’s freshman class rivals the seniors in school spirit, and she is taking on a mentorship role as freshmen, including spirit commissioner Julia Flohr, move into leadership roles and prepare to take in their first Crosstown Classic as members of the Blue Crew.
“We don’t know what to expect, so when it happens it will be awesome and we’ll want to go all the time,” Flohr said.