The Twelfth Man

What the soccer playoffs taught me about the importance of school spirit


Nicky Denaro '22

Fans cheer for the Raiders at a playoff game on the Robert E. Walker Field.

Every student and faculty member can agree that the Ransom Everglades community needs more school spirit. School spirit has the power to bring a student body together and makes a school feel more like a place students can call home. More school spirit means students will have a better outlook on their experience of attending RE. Overall, school spirit reaps countless positive benefits. 

As a member of Ransom Everglades’ Boys Varsity Soccer Team, I felt what it was like to play on a winning team backed by our whole community, who showed immense support from start to finish. Throughout the season, there had always been parents and students who would come out to support us on game nights. However, the support began to seriously ramp up when playoffs began, particularly during the district semifinal versus Westminster Christian School. 

For our team, this game meant the world. Our season ended short last year after a heartbreaking loss in the regional semifinal to Westminster, and we did not want to ever feel that feeling of defeat again. They were our rivals, and we were determined to take them down. Coach Dave Villano, the Boys’ Varsity Soccer coach, spoke to us about not only the importance of this game, but also the importance of getting our classmates to attend and cheer us on. I can say confidently that the RE community delivered. 

The sea of RE students wearing all white overshadowed Westminster’s crowd of students wearing all black in terms of size and volume. Our student body looked like an army. The energy that a student section can bring to a team is indescribable; it felt like we truly had a twelfth man against their eleven. There is nothing like playing a game knowing that your family, educators, and friends have your back and are cheering you on. We won the district championship comfortably by two goals to their zero, propelling us to the first seed in regionals. 

With every subsequent game in the playoffs came more fans eager to cheer us on. Regional quarterfinals brought a new surprise: we were again faced with playing our rival Westminster. This time, our crowd of fans was even larger. As a player, I can speak for the team when I say we wanted to go out on the field and make a statement: we were going to end Westminster’s season for good this time. At the final whistle, the score line was four goals to their zero, and having the RE community in the stands made it all the sweeter. 

“It really meant everything to the team to have the school come out and support like that,” said Nico Sosa ’23, who played an integral role in our team’s success. “Only the team knows how much confidence and momentum the crowd gave us to win games and perform under pressure in tense moments. It was a crucial piece to our run.”  

Another notable moment of RE school spirit came during our regional final, or Battle of the Bay, versus Immaculata-La Salle High School. Never have I seen more RE students in one place with so much excitement in the air. The energy was incredible. Playing in that game was one of the best moments of my high school experience. We won the game by a single goal in the final minutes, and as the clock struck 00:00, our classmates rushed the field to celebrate with the team after the big win. RE students and the team cheered, danced, and took photos; the soccer team had not won regionals in many years. The seniors and I savored the moment, for it would be one of our last on Walker Field. 

Not only did the fans fuel our ride through the playoffs; they also served to unify our community. They created an atmosphere where all RE students could have fun, away from the competitiveness of the classroom. As Hannah Badia ’22 put it, “During the boys’ playoff season, I never missed a game. I loved being surrounded by friends and family while cheering on the boys. Even my parents would come to the games, and they have not had a son playing soccer for Ransom since 2019. I would lose my voice every single game, screaming as loud as I could just so they could hear me. I was also terrified to miss a game in case it was their last.”  

The Florida High School State Championship was the pinnacle event of the season. I vividly remember the athletic department explaining that they anticipated reserving two buses for the trip to Deland, Florida—and Coach Goff telling us, the next day, that there would be at least five, with over two hundred students signed up to attend our game.  

Though we fought as hard as we could during that state final, we could not come up with the win. Regardless, that game was a highlight of our high school careers. The support we got during and after the game was so refreshing, and we were proud to have led such a monumental moment at Ransom Everglades. Even back in Miami, students flooded Posner Hall to watch the livestream of the match during school. It was crazy to believe that we had that much support. Even people who didn’t associate with sports were present, active, and watching. 

At an academically rigorous institution like Ransom Everglades, severe competition can often make students feel isolated. My experience of the soccer playoffs this year made it clear that we need school spirit now more than ever. I encourage everyone to support their friends in whatever competition present, from robotics competitions to water polo matches to lacrosse games. It feels awesome to know that you have your classmates’ support. 

As Dillan Kaye ’22, a captain on the team, put it, “We could not have done it without them. I will forever cherish the memories our school made throughout the season.”