On Friday, Jan. 10, the Jungle, Andover High School’s fan section, received the Commonwealth Cup for Best Fan Section at the Christmas tournament held by the Merrimack Valley Conference.

The Jungle was recently honored for being organized, color coordinated...and LOUD! (Photo by Lauren Wiener)
The Jungle was recently honored for being organized, color coordinated…and LOUD! (Photo by Lauren Wiener)

Every winter break, the Merrimack Valley Conference holds a boys and girls basketball Christmas tournament called the Commonwealth Christmas Classic. A trophy is given to the high school that wins the tournament. This year, someone donated another trophy to be given to the best fan section. AHS is the first recipient of this award. The Jungle won due to its “organization, decibel level, and color coordination,” said the Commonwealth Classic.

Shannon Taylor, a senior and one of the leaders of the Jungle, said that receiving the award felt unbelievable. She said that one of her favorite things about the Jungle is “seeing how much it helps whoever we are cheering on. I have had basketball players tell me that the cheering amps them up even more than they already are, which is our goal.”

The AHS boys basketball team ended up winning the Christmas tournament. The Jungle won the trophy due to the school spirit demonstrated at the Christmas tournament games against Lawrence High School and Central Catholic. The Jungle beat North Andover High School’s fan section with a final score of 83­-75.

Coach Fazio, the boys basketball coach at AHS for the past 25 years, said winning the award is great because the Jungle involves “the whole community, and not just the twelve basketball players.”

A quintet of AHS students has taken the reins of the Jungle. At center, Shannon Taylor holds the trophy recently awarded to the school. (Photo by Andrew Wang)
A quintet of AHS students has taken the reins of the Jungle. At center, Shannon Taylor holds the trophy recently awarded to the school. (Photo by Andrew Wang)

The award was presented by Fennis Dembo, 47, a retired basketball player who played for the Detroit Pistons’ 1989 NBA championship team.

“I am excited to see how much our Jungle can improve and hopefully we can really impress Fennis even more throughout the season,” said Taylor.

The Jungle was created last year by Adam Weisman, a 2013 graduate. Taylor said, “[Weisman] really inspired me last year because of how he took control and changed the attitude of our school. He created something great for everyone to be a part of.”

The Jungle has been lauded for bringing together the students of AHS in support of their school. Jared Goldstein, a senior and one of the leaders of the Jungle, said that one of his favorite things about the fan section is that it “can unite an entire school together and bring out the good in people.”

Coach Fazio said that since last year the fan section has been the most impressive he has ever seen in all his years at AHS. However, even though he applauds the fan section, he notes that it is not at the level of last year’s Jungle, so the students still have work to do. However, he acknowledges that it is still early in the year. He hopes for “more students at home and away [games], more energy, and more passion that basketball players can play with.”

Both Fazio and Goldstein said that the school should be proud of winning the award. Fazio said that winning it had “everything to do about our student body coming together.” He is also impressed by the positive culture and environment the students have created. He said that the students are able to enjoy each other’s company. Taylor said that she has met “so many great people” due to the Jungle.

Taylor also hopes more people will get involved with the Jungle: “The pep band made an appearance [at the January 10 game] and did an awesome job. I want to see people attend the basketball games who I have never seen there before. I also want to spread the spirit to some other sports teams, such as the girl’s basketball team, because they deserve some fans as well.”

Though the Jungle still has some work to do, the fact that they won the award for Best Fan Section demonstrates the dedication and school spirit here at AHS.

 By Lauren Wiener