CHESHIRE — High school student athletes are working to keep cheers at local games positive, and their efforts helped earn the school recognition from the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference.
Steve Trifone, Cheshire High athletic director, said students who attended a CIAC sportsmanship conference formed the Project RAM group whose name stands for Responsible Audience Members. The youth encourage their peers to act responsibly during games.
“They self-police,” Trifone said. “If there’s a student in the stands who is obnoxious or is starting a cheer that’s negative, they try to say, ‘knock it off.’”
The Board of Education recognized the students’ efforts during its meeting Thursday. Board Chairwoman Cathy Hellreich was pleased the district was recognized for sportsmanship.
Cheshire High School won the CIAC’s Michael’s Achievement Cup, which is awarded for a number of criteria.
“One of the big ones is sportsmanship,” Trifone said. The CIAC asks schools to come up with sportsmanship plans to encourage good fan behavior.
Mia Pulisciano and Julia Schaff, seniors and field hockey players, presented their plan to the senior class and got other students and athletes to help monitor the crowd during games, particularly football games.
“When negative chants were going to start, we said, ‘hey guys, let’s change it up,’” Schaff said. “At first it was a little bit rocky.”
She and Pulisciano said they recruited others to help them head off cheers that mock the opposing team or contain foul language.
“We’re here to just cheer for our team,” Schaff said. ”The negative chants stopped…It really helped the overall environment of the student section.”
The class standing of those in Project RAM also helps, according to Pulisciano.
“Since we’re seniors and we’re older kids, we’re able to say something,” she said. “They respect that.”
Trifone said the group has helped improve the atmosphere at sporting events.
“It has worked out well for us so far,” Trifone said. “They’re taking care of it themselves. For the most part it works.
“When it’s coming from your peers, it’s so much better,” he added.,
Schaff said Cheshire students have plenty of school spirit.
“We want to keep that spirit positive,” she said.