FHC fans are back in the building


It’s been a beautiful thing this year to witness countless FHC fans pour green-and-white spirit into their respective teams, especially in the absence of a proper season the year prior.

If there’s one thing that all FHC athletes can agree on, it’s that something was undeniably different about 2021 for all sports and seasons. On top of the health risks, social barriers, and general disarray associated with COVID-19, the pandemic quickly swept through the lives of young athletes, too.

Varsity baseball assistant Lang Davis remembers the dark days of no sports at all, right around the very first COVID-19 shutdown.

“It was so surreal that it put you in a bad mood,” coach Davis said. “It’s so seasonal; your body starts to feel like it’s ready to go once the season rolls around, and the athletes weren’t able to carry that out when they couldn’t play.”

The MHSAA managed to scrape together fall, winter, and spring sports seasons during the 2020-2021 school year. However, there is no doubt that the lack of fans took away from the all-around experience. It was difficult for players and fans alike to endure low-energy environments that would otherwise host raucous crowds.

Senior Joe Seurynck was able to witness this divide firsthand in the last two years. As a junior last winter, Joe and the boys varsity basketball team rode to the district finals in limited-capacity atmospheres. It was a surreal, unprecedented experience.

“In big games, it feels like a given to have fans there, and we just couldn’t have them at the time,” Joe said. “It was just really weird having to supply all of our energy from the bench.”

Rangerball played its home games in 2021 with a limited number of fans due to COVID-19.

In 2022, though, gyms far and wide have been packed. It seems as if school communities are trying to make up for the lost time. Seurynck’s been able to experience this contrast between years.

“This year was much more entertaining with all of our fans back,” Joe said. “It did make a difference, especially with getting us hungry and energized.”

FHC’s Jungle has returned to its old, packed form in 2022.

One perfect example of this was a nearby district final for boys basketball in Division II; one-loss GR Catholic Central faced off against previously undefeated Unity Christian at Calvin University. Over 4,000 people attended the marquee matchup.

The district finals at Calvin University drew over 4,000 in-person viewers. (Daniel Shular)

Sure, there were more college basketball signees on the court than to count on one hand, but filling up a college basketball arena for a high-school district game is pretty astonishing and nothing to scoff at. 

Rangerball got to bask in similar glory this year, as the FHC Jungle was filled to the brim on multiple occasions. The season opener against Eastern was a breath of fresh air from the previous season; the Rangers were able to rally behind the crowd and come away with a statement victory to open the year.

It wasn’t just the basketball court that reaped such benefit. No matter the venue–FHC, the Aquatic Center, or Patterson Ice Center–the advantage of having fans back in the building reminded the athletes to not take it for granted.

“It’s been something that all of our athletes have gone through,” Lang Davis said. “It’s not just one sport, one team, one season; it’s the fact that everybody is in it together makes it easier to learn and grow as one school.”

Now that the 2020-2021 dust has settled, it has been incredible to see the athletes capitalize on their chance to put on a show for the crowd. Whether it was FHC Football packing the stadium for the first time in two years, volleyball reaching the regional final, or hockey pulling off a playoff upset for the ages, Ranger fans have been blessed in the past 8 months.

The coincidence is fairly obvious. FHC athletes are a rare breed; they shine the brightest in front of a packed house. Plus, the entire spring season remains to showcase the same Ranger pride and spirit. Expect to see a number of wild atmospheres in the coming months.

“It’s gonna feel great without the restrictions and things that limited us,” coach Davis said in regards to the looming varsity baseball season. “We have a fun year to look forward to while we get back in that seasonal mode.”