116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MOUNT VERNON - Inside the gym at Mount Vernon High School, the walls are covered with past accomplishments.
For such a small town, it is a great feel to have achieved so many banners - such as going to state or to being conference champs.
Over the years, the number of students attending school sporting events has increased, especially with the success of the volleyball and football programs, among other.
A survey was emailed to students in late October, asking what sports they like to watch and cheer for the most. The results were not surprising. Football was a the favorite fall sport, boys' basketball won for winter, girls' track for spring and baseball for summer.
Sophomore Anna Nydegger is known for cheering loudly in the student section at football games.
'The Mustangs are the best team in the world,” she said.
Every Friday in the fall, Nydegger puts on her superfan shirt for Zach Baker, who was a starter on the team. She said the feeling of football season is the best - the excitement of the game where everyone in town comes together to support friends and family. Right as she gets to the game, she meets up with friends and urgently goes over to the student section, which always is packed.
'The people are what make football games memorable,” Nydegger said.
Like a herd of wild mustangs, the football players surge onto the field ready to play football.
Even more than the excitement of the beginning of the game, Nydegger enjoys the competition.
'And in that moment of silence right before the Mustangs are going to score, everyone is silent ... then touchdown,” Nydegger said.
After two quarters have passed, the Mount Vernon Marching Mustangs put on another amazing halftime performance and blow everyone away. Nydegger and all the students are ready to win.
'The best feeling is when everyone swarms the field after a win and play the song ‘Sweet Caroline,'” she said.
Even though this season didn't end the way the students wanted (5-4 with no playoff berth), Nydegger and everyone else are glad to be a Mustang.
As winter rolls in, so does basketball season.
Paige Beck, along with the other basketball cheerleaders, prepares for the game. After she arrives at the school, she puts on her uniform along with some makeup and begins to stretch and practice stunts with other cheerleaders, who only cheer at the home games and sometimes perform at halftime.
'The stunts are one of the most exciting parts about cheering at the game,” Beck said.
As the game begins, Beck and the rest of the cheerleaders are ready for action. Everything about the game is fast-paced, even the student section. Being a cheerleaders for the boys' team has allowed Beck and the other girls to fully understand what is going on. Even by not paying attention for a few seconds, something major could be missed - as Beck would know.
'Funny enough, instead of paying attention to what was going on in the game, I turned away to look at the student section and got smacked in the face with the ball in front of everyone,” she said.
The laughter and the memories are what make basketball season so special to Beck.
It is often thought students cheer for sports they don't participate in, but that isn't the case for junior Caroline See.
Born to run, See has grown up around the track and is a big fan. Her love for running never dies and every year she falls in love with the sport again.
As spring comes around, See joins the girls' track and field team. Even though there's a lot of love, it doesn't mean there can't be times of pain.
'I understand the pain they're going through and all the training it took to get that one good time in that one race,” See said.
See is close with all her teammates and girls from other teams. From inside the oval, See cheers on other girls competing for the win. With the help of See and other students and parents cheering, the runners pick up the speed, some falling across the finish line.
'It is so inspiring to see, with just the smallest act of cheering, someone on can make a very big impact,” See said.
The final event is one of the most intense races of the day, the 1,600-meter relay. Mount Vernon always puts together an amazing team for the relay, so everyone knows it's going to be a good one. When the race is neck and neck, See goes nuts along with others on the field and in the stands. When the girls and boys have a combined meet, both Mount Vernon teams put their hands down low and shake them saying 'ahhh.” As the runners run by they swipe their hands horizontally saying 'swoosh.”
See said it's always hard to see the season come to an end.
Summer is the time of freedom for many students. There is no school, but there is baseball and softball.
As a four-sport athlete, Logan Griebel's summers are a little different from other students. Every morning in the summer, Griebel and the rest of the baseball players get ready to go to practice.
'You feel like a family with the team, you become very close spending so much time together,” he said.
No matter how hard the practice is or how much they don't want to be there, the players always encourage each other to do better.
Right before the game, the coach delivers a few words of encouragement and then 'play ball.”
The noise from the dugout, his teammates cheering him on as he steps to the plate is exhilarating, Griebel said.
'It's the best feeling ever,” he said of getting a big hit in a game.
No matter if it is a win or loss, the Mustangs are glad to be a team. The summer is never wasted.
Sports are part of the American culture, a tradition many look forward to. What is your favorite sport to watch?