Is Urban school spirit alive and well?


Urban students cheering for the school’s athletes at the October 24, 2014 soccer game versus Stuart Hall High School

With winning sports teams, one would think The Urban School of San Francisco would be armed to the teeth with fans in blue paint, enthusiastic cheers, and students flocking to games from all over the Bay Area. Even though the school has met with much athletic success, it seems that the lack of student spirit might be the limiting factor. Thus, my mission began to answer one question: where have all the fans gone?

“I believe (the school spirit has) elevated since my first two years here, but I think it’s been a constant at this point. I don’t think our attendance has been better or worse since my second or third year here,” said the Athletic Director Joe Skiffer, who is currently in his fifth year at Urban.

Max Wellins(’16), a leader of the Urban Athletic Club (UAC) has a more positive outlook. “I think we’ve got a lot of school spirit. If you just look around, this is an Urban versus University game and we’ve got a lot of people here, and so many people are on their feet,” said Wellins, standing in a crowd of Urban students at a boys varsity soccer game.

Varsity basketball player André Campbell Jr. (‘16) furthered Wellins’ outlook, saying that “Urban has a huge fan base.” On the court, he said, “(It) makes me want to play harder. I really get engaged with the fans and hearing them yelling, screaming, really gets me going.”

Some students, such as varsity basketball player Eddie Lieberman (‘15), think school spirit has vastly improved. “It’s gotten a lot better since I was a freshmen. The first soccer game is always pretty big but you can never really count on the whole school coming out for a Tuesday night basketball game or a girls soccer championship on a weeknight,” said Lieberman (’15).

However, all of the students interviewed thought the spirit could still improve. “I think we need to make a bigger deal about it,” said swimmer Spencer Rosen (’17). “Bulletin board posts aren’t enough; we need people screaming about sports games and more announcements at assembly. We need to get it out there more. We need to get pumped up about this.”

“I don’t think it’s where anyone really wants it to be right now. I definitely hear a lot of complaints and (student committee is) trying to organize more whiteouts or pep (rallies),” said varsity tennis and basketball player Vicki Velashea (’15).

Joe Skiffer has recently revitalized the Urban Athletic Club to help bolster the Urban spirit. “The mission for the UAC is … to support our athletic program … Sometimes we need bodies at events for those events to run, but it’s also to bring support to games,” he said.

“Let’s say tennis has a big game in two weeks, for four kids, that’s their job, they’re trying to see what they can do to bring fans to that event,” Skiffer said.

Some students even had suggestions of how both the school and Urban students could help improve the spirit. “As a senior,” said Lieberman, “leading cheers (and) getting the underclassmen … to come (would be a great way to boost school spirit). Like the upperclassmen, some of them have decided that they don’t like coming to sports games, but just telling them again that it’s bigger than us, we’re one school and it’s important that everyone has pride.”

According to Skiffer, “The biggest improvement would be getting more fans to events.” When students come to games, both the social dynamic and support for the teams add energy to the crowd. “I believe once they come, they’ll also feed into that energy and they may be surprised that they may enjoy themselves more than they anticipated,” Skiffer continued.

Fortunately, it seems Urban’s school spirit is not at a low or steadily decreasing. Based on the high attendance of the Urban vs. University soccer game on September 19 and the Urban vs. Stuart Hall High School soccer game on October 24, plus the enthusiasm felt by many students, and their eagerness to revive school spirit, it appears the fans are just returning.