There are a couple of things you should know about my first fan experience. First, I work in Miamisburg. Shocking as it is to read, my website is my side project. During the day, I am a letter carrier for the United States Postal Service, and I deliver mail in Miamisburg. I felt there was no better way to kick off my fan experience showcase than with the high school that is within a mile of where I work.
The second means a lot to me personally. Holland Field at Miamisburg is the stadium where I got my first experience as a sideline reporter. Miamisburg hosted Wayne High School last fall in the first game ever played at Holland Field on Miamisburg High School’s campus. I was working with WSWO-LP producing Wayne games, but was given the chance to work the sidelines that night due to a scheduling conflict. It was the opportunity of a lifetime, and I will cherish that night forever.
All that out of the way, on to the High School Fan Experience at Miamisburg High School!
The Miamisburg Vikings were hosting the Northwest Knights on Friday, August 25. Holland Field, home of the Vikings on the high school’s campus, is still a new stadium, having only opened for the second home game of 2016, after playing their games at Harmon Field for decades. Truth be told, Harmon Field feels small and cramped, and yet still intimate and certifiably home. Holland Field feels open and large while keeping the same intimate, hometown feel, combining the best of what Harmon Field was and what a Division 1 Football stadium should be.
All fans enter Holland Field through one of two gates on the north end of the stadium. Once entering, you are immediately greeted with a gift shop for spirit wear, bathrooms, and a sizable concession stand. After collecting your food and a program, it is off to the bleachers to take in some Friday Night Football!
Both sidelines are lined with bleachers at Holland Field. Home fans sit on the much larger West stand, while visiting fans and the visiting band sit on the smaller East Stand. When the game begins, Miamisburg Marching Band takes their place behind the south endzone, ready to cheer on their Vikings.
The game itself was exciting! Defense was optional in the first half, as both Miamisburg and Northwest found the endzone multiple times after having great success running the ball. However, the second half was all Miamisburg, as Northwest could not find an answer to the Miamisburg running game. While the game was a blowout, it was easy to tell that there was no indication of Miamisburg running up the score; Almost the entire fourth quarter featured the backups and underclassmen for Miamisburg getting the playing time. The final score was Miamisburg 54, Northwest 24.
A clean game with both teams learning some things about themselves, now that is how you start a high school football season! However, the game itself is not why we are here, though. There is so much more to a high school football game than the game on the field!
The fan experience always starts before the gates open, so tailgating will always be featured in my fan experience reviews. At Miamisburg, I was privileged to meet Joe and Dave, two dads who, along with a group of friends, have been going to Miamisburg games for quite some time. When I met them, just one table was set up, but more cars and trucks were still to come with an entire block of parking spaces blocked off right near the front gates just for them. Joe and Dave told me they began tailgating last year during the state playoffs, and some of the crowds that joined them at their tailgate grew to upwards of 100 people. The iconic Hamburger Wagon, a local landmark in Miamisburg, even made an appearance at one of the tailgating events. From the crock pots and dips they had when I walked over, I could already smell that the food was going to be delicious, and from the way they reacted when their friends arrived, the camaraderie was going to be the only thing to top the food. Thanks, Joe and Dave, for giving me a look at some of the tailgating at Miamisburg!
Who doesn’t love a good marching band? I certainly do, and not just because I am a music geek. The marching band adds a level of excitement to the air at high school and college football games that is unmatched at NFL events. The Miamisburg High School Viking Band did not disappoint that night. The marching was crisp, the sound was well rehearsed, and the music was well chosen. Pregame saw the band march on for their performances of the fight song, alma mater, and national anthem. All three were well done, including the big block M they marched into, which looked clean and precise. The halftime show was a preview of their show for the year, titled “Viva Lost Vegas.” Starting with a good percussion intro, the music grew to a satisfying climax, leaving me wanting just a bit more, which is exactly what a preview should do. Scoring 54 points means the marching band is going to get a lot of practice on the fight song, but one touchdown was scored when the band was rehearsing for halftime. What happens when there is no band to play the song?
Why the students belt the song with all of their might, of course! The Miamisburg Student Section is called The Ship. The Miamisburg Student Section is a group of crazies, and I mean that in the best way possible. The enthusiasm they brought to this game, against a team in which Miamisburg does not typically play and has no rivalry with, was remarkable, and I commended them for that during the third quarter. The chants were excellently choreographed, especially their B-U-R-G chant, which I witnessed up close and personal just moments after I told them how impressed I was. The section leaders lead the chant, as half of the students stand and yell “B-U” before immediately sitting. The other half of the students then immediately stand and yell “R-G”. This continues for as long as the leaders choose. I can safely say my already poor hearing took on a little more damage from the exuberance showed by the students during that chant. The Ship prides themselves on being the best student section in the GWOC (Greater Western Ohio Conference). They certainly looked every bit of it against Northwest! We shall see how they stack up against the student section when I visit Centerville High School on September 8!
Talk about welcoming, I could not have been more kindly greeted at Holland Field. Fans smiled, administrators were accommodating beyond what I expected, and kids said hello at all turns to me, the person wearing a bow tie and a full suit at a high school football game. It was middle school night, so an entire section of bleachers was filled with Miamisburg Middle School students, getting a taste of what high school football will be like in their near futures. At the concession stand, I was greeted by parent volunteers, who were serving and grilling burgers and hot dogs, while also plating up some Milano’s Pizza, which is a personal favorite of mine. My only complaint is a personal preference, because I find cowbells annoying. However, these fans clanged their cowbells with a similar enthusiasm to the students sitting to their left, and I cannot complain about fans cheering passionately for their team. Above all else, though, the fans were respectful of everyone. There were no negative cheers towards Northwest, nor were there any negative reactions to visitors to the stadium. At Holland Field, it felt as though all were welcome, and that was a pleasant sight to see.
Overall, my trip to Holland Field at Miamisburg High School left me with an excellent taste in my mouth, and I am not talking about the pizza. It was a fun game, and the fans at Holland Field, young and old alike, could not have been nicer. There were no taunts in any direction, no ill will by fans or players towards one another, and no truly unfair advantages at play. It was well played and well cheered, and it was all done in a way that is appropriate for all ages.
What takes the cake for that night, though, was when I was honored with meeting Mr. Eudon Holland, the man for which they named the stadium. Well into his 80’s, Mr. Holland is a quiet but humble man, and my brief encounter with him was truly a proud moment for me. Eudon Holland had to persevere through high school, having to work multiple jobs to support himself while excelling on the field and in the classroom. Miamisburg chose an honorable man to name their stadium after, and we should all stand and applaud Mr. Eudon Holland, just as the entire crowd gave him a standing ovation during the fourth quarter of the game.
My suggestion if you go to see a game at Miamisburg High School: sit near the students. Their cheers are family friendly, but they are also loud, strong, and worthy of the title “best student section in the GWOC”. Miamisburg, you have made a fan out of me! What an experience!!