I was pleasantly surprised by the atmosphere Friday and Saturday night at Fonda-Fultonville High School for the Foothills-Colonial Challenge, and judging by some of the comments made, I wasn't the only one.
The host Braves' fans were in sectional form both nights, making the high school gym the loudest I've ever heard it. If you go to any Fonda-Fultonville games this season, you'll find them in the bleachers behind one of the baskets, chanting for their team, getting on an opposing player or two or bantering with a similar group from the other team.
The most famous are group of fans is and probably always will be the Gloversville boys basketball Super Fans, who make that school's gym one of the most uncomfortable places to play for an opponent. I don't know how things are in the new high school gymnasium, but their presence used to take over the previous gymnasium, which was much smaller. The smaller, more intimate atmosphere definitely made them a force to be reckoned with.
I haven't been to a Gloversville boys basketball game since the new gym opened and I'm curious to see if they take over the atmosphere in the new - and march larger facility - the way they did in the old one.
Both Friday and Saturday night, the Fonda-Fultonville gym reminded me of Gloversville, especially since Johnstown brought its own student section Friday night, which camped out near center court. In a close game, both groups were in playoff form.
Of course, when they ran out of things to chant about on the court, they would take on each other, as both groups are definitely informed. When the Fonda-Fultonville side started heckling Johnstown's side about the cancelation of the varsity football season, the Johnstown side fired back, reminding the Fonda-Fultonville faithful that their spring sports are in danger due to midyear budget cuts.
It shows that the two groups of fans are at least paying attention.
It might have gone on longer, but Fonda-Fultonville football coach Tom Carpenter quieted them down for a moment and they moved on to something else. For shame, I was looking forward to the next topic.
Now, I know that Code of Conduct that's read before each game forbids taunting by participants and spectators - and this definitely is taunting - I'm glad these groups are allowed to mostly do whatever they want. It gives basketball a unique atmosphere. Plus, it's usually good-natured between the two groups, unless someone goes a step too far. But I saw no sign of that over the weekend.
It also gives basketball a unique element. While some teams' fans get a little rowdy at soccer or football games, they tend to be farther away from the field. Plus, they are outdoors and some noise is lost in the air. Inside, when they fans are sometimes inches from the court and in an enclosed space, the sound is trapped and amplified, especially in a smaller gym.
Of the two nights, Friday night was the most fun. The Braves' fans didn't have much to work against in the game against Broadalbin-Perth. It also was apparently a bit of a surprise to Fonda-Fultonville players and coaches as they were commenting on it both nights. I don't know. This past weekend was my first game there in several years.
If they can keep things up, it will make Fonda-Fultonville's cramped gym a more exciting place to play than it's been.