Sidwell’s F.A.N. Club Reflects on 2021-2022 School Year

Throughout the 2021-2022 school year, Sidwell sports have seen success, earning trophies, titles and national recognition. Due to these impressive feats, the culture surrounding athletics at Sidwell has become a significant part of students’ lives, even for those who do not participate in sports.

The Friends Athletic Nation (F.A.N.) is a club at Sidwell that works to promote sports and attract fans to support their peers involved in athletics. Through the club’s efforts, Sidwell’s sports teams have seen student support at almost all events, resulting in exciting games, energetic crowds and a source of community for athletes and fans alike.

A large part of the F.A.N. is the club’s online presence. Club heads run an Instagram account that regularly features game promotions, theme announcements and more to notify students and parents about any upcoming events. Especially for important games such as MAC or state tournament matchups, the club makes sure to spread the word by sending out all-school emails and making announcements around campus, in addition to posting on Instagram.

Fan participation begins long before players take the field. For key games, the F.A.N. sets all-school themes, such as “whiteout” or “beach,” that students wear throughout the day as well as to the games.

F.A.N. head and senior Aviva Wright highlighted the “engagement and enthusiasm about F.A.N. themes which always made the games super fun” as one of the club’s strengths.

The coordinated effort of our kids to come out to support one another during that extremely difficult time cannot be quantified.

— Donald Davis

Themes also foster a sense of community for students at the games, causing Sidwell’s fan sections to stand out. During a wwboys’ soccer game against Maret this fall, well over 100 students showed up in all-white, creating a sea of Sidwell students that players and opposing fans could recognize.

These games were where the F.A.N. heads showed their steadfast leadership.

Senior Abby Ezickson, another F.A.N. head, shared her pride about how the heads “all worked together and achieved a fun and inclusive environment at every game and competition.”

F.A.N. heads and other eager attendees participate in cheers, chants and songs to encourage Sidwell’s athletes. One particularly exciting day for the F.A.N. came during the DCSAA basketball state finals. Both the boys’ and girls’ teams brought home trophies, and the fan section was cheering wildly for the Quakers.

“As both an athlete and a fan, I felt like the general level of support for Sidwell sports was amazing this year,” Wright said.

The F.A.N. faced an especially challenging environment this year due to the impact of the pandemic and the heartbreaking loss of junior Mikey Wood.

The F.A.N.’s response to Wood’s death embodied the unity and support present within the Sidwell community. Football coach Donald Davis reflected on this support, saying, “We had an away game that week, and the coordinated effort of our kids to come out to support one another during that extremely difficult time cannot be quantified.”

Additionally, after over a year of being unable to attend sporting events due to the COVID-19 pandemic, fans were not used to showing up to games.

“Since COVID restrictions had been lifted, we really worked on getting as many people as possible to games,” Ezickson said.

Though the F.A.N. has successfully increased enthusiasm for games, it still faces the challenges of balancing fan attendance at boys’ and girls’ games and increasing the number of freshman and sophomore fans.

Ezickson noted that the club “struggled to get equal numbers of people out to boys’ and girls’ games,” despite girls’ sports teams, including the basketball and soccer, seeing massive success and boasting some of the top players in the country.

Wright also pointed out a need for underclassmen representation in team support: “I think we could improve the turnout from all grades. This could be finding a way for underclassmen to get rides to the games or just finding younger kids to promote the games.”

Going forward, the club will look to improve in these areas as well as in maintaining the “special energy and talent around sports at such a small school,” as Wright described.