Fans make a difference

By: Jim Linsdau, Sports Editor
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I wrote about this a couple weeks ago after covering the Rocklin Holiday Tournament. It had to do with the Thunder’s last game of the event against Weston Ranch. The boys in blue looked sluggish in the game and I attributed that to a lack of fan enthusiasm or fans, period.

I witnessed a similar thing during the Whitney Winter Tournament when the host club played Del Oro. The difference in this game was the fan support for the Golden Eagles.

The Loomis school has long had a reputation for athletic and academic excellence. I suppose that’s part of the reason the Eagle’s have such a loyal following but I have to wonder if it might now be the other way around.

Having seen both Whitney and Del Oro’s boys basketball teams in earlier games, I felt the Wildcats had a good chance of beating the Eagles. They were playing for third and fourth and both came in having won a game and having lost a game.

I took my usual position in the stands and began to prepare my stats sheets. It was early and not many spectators were there; that soon changed.

Before long, I was surrounded by Del Oro fans who packed in around me. Sure, I had a good spot but it wasn’t that good. At first, I was a bit annoyed they chose to sit so close until I realized what I was wearing.

Typically, I take special care to wear neutral colors so as to appear objective. For some reason, this day I didn’t pay that much attention and put on my University of Iowa sweatshirt, a favorite of mine.

For those who might not know, Iowa’s colors are gold and black – vivid gold and black. Also, the Hawkeyes’ emblem on the front could easily be mistaken for an eagle’s head.

Although I was technically seated in the “Visitors” section, I was as close to the dividing line between home and visitors as I could get without sitting on the stairs.

But what I would witness as the game progressed led me to believe Del Oro fans are among the most avid I have ever witnessed.

They had slogan-type chants plus a thing where they extend their arms and wiggle their fingers whenever an Eagles’ player goes to the foul line. That is followed by a “whoosh” sound if the player makes the shot. However, when the other team goes to the line they begin a continuous stomp that rattles the bleachers.

Now this is not to disparage Del Oro fans, not at all. Although a little unsettling at first, I came to appreciate their enthusiasm and the support they gave their team.

I know Rocklin and Whitney compete for all the same reasons as does Del Oro and I daresay have as much talent. But they don’t seem to get the same enthusiastic support.

Yes, Del Oro has a good team but not as good as some I’ve seen. However, I think Eagles’ fans give their players that extra something needed to win and that can make a big difference.