When the Valley Regional High School (VRHS) student section entered the Mohegan Sun Arena on March 15, all-not just the basketball team on the court-were Warriors ready to battle for the state championship.
On March 15, the VRHS boys' basketball team won its second state title in three years (see the full game story on page 26). After winning the Class S state championship in the 2010-'11 season, Valley moved up to Class M and dominated the league only two seasons later. This came as a bit of a surprise to a large part of the state as Valley was pitted to lose against Ledyard in the quarterfinals and to lose again in the championship game against Weston. However, the feeling among Valley supporters was quite the opposite.
On game day, as at the large majority of the VRHS boys' basketball games this season, the stands were packed. Throughout the 2012-'13 season, the VRHS student fan section defined the word dedication. VRHS had, as stated by CPTV Sports (the network that televised and commentated on the state championship games held at Mohegan Sun), "by far the biggest and loudest fan section we've seen."
March 15's game was a whiteout for Valley fans-350 students wearing matching white Valley "We Believe" T-shirts purchased by the school. The season consisted of whiteouts, blackouts, and redouts, or "bloodbaths," based on shirt color.
The spirit of the student section was unmatchable. Led by Valley senior Oskar Partyka, students cheered and chanted non-stop in support of the team. It was evident that the fans had every faith that Valley would prevail and beat Weston.
Partyka's confidence in the players was rock solid-he said he "knew their experience from two years ago [winning the Class S championship] would take them all the way."
The student section had a positive effect, creating an undying support that helped carry the team at times.
Captain and VRHS senior Mason King expressed his gratitude for the support, stating, "We couldn't have asked for a more loyal and inspirational student section."
The fans brought a rush of energy with fast-paced cheers including "De-fense," "Let's go Valley," and the infamous "I Believe" chant.
According to King, "When we didn't bring our own energy, the fans were there to pick us up."
The support and the belief that Valley would win the state championship and, earlier this season the Shoreline championship, united the Valley Regional student body and tri-town area. King declared, "We had the best fan section in the state. Period."
When the buzzer sounded to signal the end of the game and the ball was thrown into the air by Valley senior Sean Cunningham, the arena erupted with cheers, including a chant of "Second Ring" from the VRHS student section.
The VRHS student section was without a doubt a phenomenon throughout the season. The fan base grew over the season as the team won game after game. The team's wins became those of not just the basketball team, but of the fans and of the entire student body.
Morgan Hines is a senior at Valley Regional High School.
"I! I! I believe! I believe!
I believe that! I believe that!
I believe that we! I believe that we! I believe that we!
I believe that we will! I believe that we will!
I believe that we will win!
I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!
I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!
I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!"