Smells Like School Spirit

Trojan Pride on display at Jamboree


During the Varsity Jamboree, Alisal Students go head-to-head in the unofficial spirit-off between North Salinas and Alisal’s student sections.

Ahh yes, the annual city-wide football jamboree, a time when all four high schools in our district come together to compete and hit another player from the opposing team. Many students, families, and fans gather every year to celebrate the beginning of the new football season. For the third year, it was held at Rabobank Stadium, a  neutral setting for all schools. Adding to this year’s excitement was supposed to be the return of the Spirit Competition for all schools.

The spirit competition is a city-wide, winner-take-all showing of school pride. While it was once a yearly competition, it has been dormant for years. It consists of no official rubric, but one, single, neutral judge, usually the superintendent, who decides the winner based on the most school spirit throughout the night. Last year, former Principal Dan Burns, an Associate Superintendent, supported bringing back the competition for the 2016-2017 school year. Apparently, everyone was on board bringing back the competition for this year’s jamboree.

The night of the jamboree was exciting. Once I walked into the stadium, the atmosphere was buzzing, students were dispersed throughout the grounds catching up with friends, and everyone was having a great time. When varsity started, everyone was packed into the bleachers, while a few of the unlucky ones were stuck at the top standing on the rails. The starting defense for Alisal ran onto the field against Salinas High. The players were ready and we were even more ready. The crowd was amped, singing the “Trojan Fight Song” followed by the legendary “Trojan Yell.” After a couple of plays, we made our presence known to the Salinas High Quarterback, who threw an interception the next play.

As Alisal started to gather momentum, the crowd’s energy increased and transferred it down onto the field. We tried to follow the cheerleaders lead, but I, along with a few other friends, felt they lacked enthusiasm and took matters into our own hands. For the team, the competition, for Alisal.

I was sitting on the bleachers, and something came over us. We were hyped. Seniors Bryan Vargas, Enrique “Kike” Zavala, Daniel Soto, and I led our section through this jamboree and proved to the city Alisal is the place to be.

Daniel and I stepped up to the plate and delivered. We stood before our peers and preached to our student body that we need to be “LIVE and HYPED” and show the other schools what we are made of. We choreographed waves, which not only put smiles on people’s faces, but started to amp up the crowd. Bryan proceeded to initiate the “Hey Crowd” chant as well as a few others. Later on, Kike and I started the iconic “I Believe” chant from the 2014 USMNT World Cup campaign.

Throughout the night, we took turns leading chants, participating in yells, and supporting the Alisal Football team. The atmosphere was electric. People lost their voices but continued to yell even louder. We used the famous cheerleading chants whenever they had the chance such as asking a certain somebody “HOW DO YOU FEEL?!”, such as asking Senior Jakob Lopez and our Principal, Mr. Garcia.  Alisal was loving the jamboree and clearly dominating the cheering, when the Vikings decided to challenge the Trojan section.

Just when it looked like we ran out of gas in the spirit tank, the Vikings gave us a much needed second wind. The Vikings challenged the Trojans to a “Cheer Off.” As many of our courageous Alisal students made the trek to meet the Vikings toe-to-toe, we were backed up with the cheers of our classmates, which encouraged us even more to win this imaginary competition. The crowd immediately jumped into the “Trojan Fight Song” to show that Alisal wasn’t about to be pushed over by North Salinas. The chants included the “Tro-jans! Tro-jans! Tro-jans!” and “You Wish You Were a Trojan! Hoo! Hah!” Despite many chants being yelled at one another, the North Salinas Vikings and Alisal Trojans met eye-to-eye and recognized the sportsmanship between the two schools. North Salinas senior, Darren Tennant, explained what he experienced that night, “ It was awesome because it led a lot of us to new friendships and allowed us to show the type of great sportsmanship both schools have.”

After the “Cheer-Off,” many thumbs up and “Good jobs” were passed. Then, the Trojans hugged it out with the Vikings and made a bond through football. Alisal and North Salinas were very sociable together. Our new-found friends chanted gleefully into the night. The intertwined crowds had pro-Vikings/Trojans chants and participated the iconic “I Believe” chant as one. Senior Cassandra Benavidez had the experience being crowd surfed into the North Salinas section, as well as a North Salinas Senior, Danae Snell, being surfed into the Alisal crowd. Soon after, the two mixed groups had a historic collaboration on the popular song, “ Don’t Stop Believing,” by Journey. The two schools sang their hearts out and shared their talents with one another. The fun couldn’t last forever, when the jamboree ended, the crowd couldn’t believe it. “Already?” is what raced on our minds. After a memorable night, the schools said goodbyes to our friends and dispersed into the city.

After the jamboree, Alisal students wanted to find out who was the winner of the Spirit competition, only to be informed there was no competition, since Burns is no longer an Associate Superintendent for our district, and his successor had no idea the competition was in play. Consequently, there was no Official Spirit Competition, but according to  Ayala, “The community knows that we won.”

Ayala said that the reason why they cancelled the competition in the first place was because Alisal has won the Spirit Competition 10 years straight. With word going around, there was no surprise that the students were filled with spirit. “We wanted to win and we won,” Ayala said.

In honor of our efforts and values, Ayala, with the help of ASB, wants to create a school spirit banner for the 2017-2018 campaign. She plans on having the spirit leaders come together to decide and vote what would the banner say. This is currently an idea in the works, and the banner would be displayed at every home game, flowing in the air, high and mighty, showing everyone Alisal is the place to be.