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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, March 8, 2012

Making waves: Red Sea roils Guilderland administrators

GUILDERLAND –– “Dribble, dribble, dribble…pass…dribble, dribble…pass.”

“Air ball!”

“You suck!”

These are just a few shouts that the Red Sea, Guilderland’s student fan contingent, will yell at opposing teams during a varsity basketball game.

The Red Sea is not subtle. Some members dress up in costumes, and some of the behavior can borderline the absurd. The students also cheer at varsity football games. For the Red Sea, it’s all about getting into the opponents head while having a good time supporting the home team.

“It does have a psychological effect,” said senior Tony Stanish, a frequent Red Sea participant, after Guilderland lost to Bishop Maginn in the Class AA quarterfinals on Feb. 25. “Our actions must have an effect.”

Does some of the conduct cross the line?

During the basketball season, Guilderland’s administration called a meeting with some Red Sea members to address the issue of some negative behavior being displayed at games.

“They targeted us specifically, saying that the Red Sea is ruining the reputation of Guilderland High School,” senior Patrick Wood said of the meeting that had 20 students, nine administrators, and a police officer. “They wanted to stop us from having fun.”

Guilderland Principal Tom Lutsic told The Enterprise that the administration supports the Red Sea, but he doesn’t want the student fans to represent the school in a negative way. “We asked the kids to be positive,” Lutsic said. “Generally, it’s a great group of fans, but there had been an increase in negative behavior by some individuals.”

Lutsic said that he wants the Red Sea coming out to the games, and Guilderland never told the kids not to come. “We didn’t discipline anybody,” he said. “We’re just trying to keep it positive. We had heard about some negative language, so we took a look.”

Stanish, who will be playing football in college for Stony Brook University, said that fans, in general, regularly cross the line during sporting events. “OK, so you tell me not to say, ‘You suck,’” he said. “I’m sorry, but that’s part of the game.”

Senior Sean Klim said he was thrown out of a home basketball game this season for yelling “air ball” too many times.

The fans yell “air ball” when an opponent’s shot is so far off the mark it doesn’t even touch the rim. “Why can’t we say ‘air ball?”” Klim said. “There’s no clear line. The administration told us that we have no impact on the outcome of the games and that the team would do fine without us. I think the fans have an impact.”

The Red Sea is loyal. Senior Peter Libertucci said that the Red Sea continued cheering in the pouring rain at a football game at Bethlehem. Meanwhile, the Eagles’ fans went under the bleachers.

“They said we could only state the facts,” Libertucci said. “That was the best part of the entire meeting. Like, what does that even mean?”

Sophomore Matt Cerutti, a break-out player for the Dutchmen basketball team this season, said that the Red Sea could be a huge factor in a game if the fans are being positive. He also said that opposing fans do yell negative comments at Guilderland when the Dutchmen play on the road.

“It’s nice to have the Red Sea on your side when it’s a tight game,” Cerutti said. “It puts pressure on the other team.”

“We don’t have any problems with noise –– being loud is great,” Lutsic said. “Just be positive and don’t single anyone out.”

It’s the Red Sea that feels like its being picked on. On Feb. 25, a few administrators stood in front of the Red Sea, watching the students’ every move. Stanish said that having people watching over them is a little awkward.

“They’re trying to restrict us from saying things that you always hear at a sporting event,” said Stanish. “The main issue was profanity, but they started cutting down on everything. I couldn’t believe it.”

Lutsic is aware of all the hoopla during a sporting event, but that doesn’t mean that it’s OK for Guilderland to be a part of it. “Some stuff just crosses the line,” he said. “It doesn’t pass for good image.”

The administration accused the Red Sea of drawing attention to itself during games, Stanish said, but he said the Red Sea is just trying to have fun. “We’re not going to dress in a suit and tie,” Stanish said. “We like to be fun fans. We’re just rooting our team on.”

The Red Sea will turn heads with its loudness.

“It can be distracting when it’s negative,” Cerutti said. “But, it really helps when they’re supportive, and they usually are. It makes us better.”

Lutsic wants the primary focus to be on whatever team the Red Sea is cheering for. “These athletes work really hard,” he said.

The Red Sea members know that it can come off as kind of crazy sometimes, but that’s all in the cards if they want to be some of the best fans around.

“Not many kids,” Wood said, “would travel 35 minutes to support their school.”

— By Jordan J. Michael

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