Bleacher creatures: Three heads are better than one
August 16, 2019
Setting up student sections, tailgates, and other activities, the bleacher creatures are there to keep game day at Richmond fun and friendly. However, for the past few years, there has been only one bleacher creature, 2019 graduate Isaiah Cox. That all changed at the end of last school year when it was decided that there would be three bleachers creatures taking over, instead of one. The new bleacher creatures would officially be announced as senior George Dickman, junior Coral Gregory, and sophomore Esther Etherington.
Although anybody can show school spirit, it was no random selection that decided what people would take over as bleacher creatures.
“Isaiah handled [choosing who would take over,] he wanted me, Esther, and Coral to do it,” Dickman said. “What he liked about it I think was that we were all in each of the different grade levels. So we can kind of continue to have people doing it for years to continue. I think he chose me because I was pretty consistent with showing up. Coral, she’s a devilette, so sometimes she’s not around. But she’s very good with getting people to come to events and is very into her spirit. Esther was chosen as well, I think she’s very supportive of her school, she has a lot of school pride. So she kind of fits the mold too.”
The process of officially choosing those people was more complicated than it may have seemed.
“Originally Isaiah gave the section to me,” Gregory said. “Being a devilette I was like ‘this is going to be a lot of time and I also won’t be able to actually lead the section during home football and basketball games,’ so I asked George if he would be willing to help me out with it and he agreed. Later, after it was official that myself and George would be taking over, Isaiah told me that he’d like Esther to tag along and kind of be learning from us as we go. That way we have something when both of us graduate. We’ll have someone who has been there and experienced it all to take over.”
For Etherington, she agrees with Gregory and feels this year will be more for learning how to run the student section, than running it.
“I’m just going to tag a long this year and learn from them,” she said. “I’ll step up in the next few years.”
Even though they were chosen for one reason or another, each member wanted to be a bleacher creature for various reasons.
”I’ve always been into sports and I’ve always been into Richmond,” Etherington said. “It’s just something that I think will be really fun. I would like to help grow the bleacher creatures because I know that the potential that we have is really good, and I think that it will be very fun.”
Some took a little more convincing to get on board.
“Last summer Isaiah posted on the bleacher creature Twitter asking for any recommendations for t-shirt designs,” Gregory said. “I was on vacation at the time and decided I didn’t have anything better to do, so I just went ahead a drew a rough sketch of what I thought would be cool to put on the shirt. My design ended up being on the back of the shirt. After that, he kept in touch with me and kept updating me. For the first half of the year, I wasn’t really interested or sure, I didn’t think it would be possible because of devilettes, but by the end of the year, he started showing me the ropes and teaching me things. There was constantly talk of me taking over, and then it was finally officially announced and here we are now.”
Others enjoyed their own experiences participating in the student section.
“I wanted to be a bleacher creature because I love being in the student section there,” Dickman said. “I’ve done it every year I’ve been at the high school. To see how much Isaiah’s cared about it, it’s kind of rubbed off on me. I enjoy it and it’s Isaiah’s thing that he started, but I was there alongside him as a fellow person cheering on. I feel it’s kind of my responsibility to keep it going for the next wave of students coming in.”
This will be the first year that three people will be the bleacher creatures, rather than one. It’s not certain how that will continue in the years to come.
“In the future,” Etherington said. “I’m assuming we’ll just do one per grade. We haven’t really discussed that, but George will be the senior, so that will most likely be up to him.”
Working with three people’s schedules can sometimes be frustrating. However, the bleacher creatures have been able to work around things and begin their plans for the year.
“We do [already have some plans made],” Etherington said. “We’ve met a few times [during the summer] to discuss what we’re going to do to change, and also what we’re going to build on this year.”
Some of these plans include major details to events.
“We’re constantly talking about things and plans for the year,” Gregory said. “I personally have already put together the themes for all of the home football games. We did an overview of what this year’s going to be like. We have a t-shirt design made and we’re solidifying everything as we go.”
Although the bleacher creatures are most known for leading the student section, their work spans much further than the bleachers.
“We’re just gonna kind of divvy up the work,” Dickman said. “There’s tailgates, there’s the actual part where you’re cheering, there’s shirts. We’ve got to get some sponsors, we’ve got to figure out how we’re going to use our money to get resources for things. I think we’ll just kind of divvy that up into different sections and work from there with it.”
While they may be stepping up as the new bleacher creatures, they all believe Cox was an important part in making it all possible.
“Isaiah brought the student section out of a recession having previously being left off without really having a student section,” Gregory said. “He led the way for future people and made a lot of connections within the community himself and has been really helpful in giving us resources to keep going with it.”
Others have an emotional connection, being there to see the student section expand under Cox’s leadership.
“When Isaiah was bleacher creature he did a really good job with taking something that was non-existent for the most part,” Dickman said. “And then turning it into something that people wanted to do. I remember my freshman year, at one time, it was just me and him in the student section alone, just two people. Just to see it grow over a few years, he did a phenomenal job.”
However, they don’t want to just have another repeat of last year’s student section.
“Obviously, it’ll be a different feel from when Isaiah was there because that was his student section,” Gregory said. “But we’re working on what we want ours to be like and it’s going to have all of the good stuff from what you liked before and more. We’re really trying to make it our own. Overall the way it’s going to be run is going to be pretty similar and familiar, but there’s going to be quite a few things that are very specific with us, and we just want everybody to have fun with it.”
Nothing is perfect and Cox’s student section was no exception. The new bleacher creatures hope to improve on areas where Cox may have lacked in the past.
“We’re going to try to get student input,” Etherington said. “Anything that they have to say we’re going to listen to, and we’re going to try to keep the student numbers up at football and basketball games especially. Also, support the smaller sports as well.”
Others believe the problem lies with planning.
“The biggest thing this year is organization,” Gregory said. “Letting the people who are participating in the student section know what’s going on ahead of time. I feel like a lot of the time last year Isaiah had trouble with getting things in place weeks prior, a couple days prior, or a couple instances where it was the day before. It’s just really hard for everyone because a lot of the time I know people put money into their costumes that they want to put into the student section and theme weeks. It just needs to be more organized overall.”
Overall, their main focus seems to be getting the student section more coverage.
“One of our main goals right now is to increase numbers,” Dickman said. “I think that starts with the freshmen and getting them immediately involved so that therefore in the future, sitting in the bleacher creatures is a really nice way to socialize, meet people, and have fun with their friends. We want to increase the numbers on a consistent basis. Instead of only big games being a big attendance for us. We also want to just make things better in terms of getting it known around the community and those types of things, it’s important.”
To combat some of those issues, they plan on taking a different approach to how themes are usually done.
“One thing that we’re going to change this year is that we’re going to have all of our themes planned out at the beginning of the school year,” Etherington said. “So for football season, all of the themes will be planned out and we’ll post them on social media. Twitter and Instagram for right now, and then later we’ll add more social media as we can.”
Dickman believes that anyone can fit in at Richmond’s student section and encourages everyone to come out.
“I would expect people who are going to come out to the games to really enjoy it,” he said. “They’re going to meet people, socialize with their friends. It’s not anything when you’re there that’s going to be annoying or something that’s boring. Showing school spirit is not a bad thing by any means. If you’re there, you’ll enjoy it. You’ll love supporting your fellow schoolmates and it’ll be a fun time.”