Pep rally pumps up school pride

INDIANA NASH/GAZETTE REPORTER
Niskayuna students pose together moments before the pep rally began in the high school's gymnasium. Friday, Oct. 14, 2016.INDIANA NASH/GAZETTE REPORTER Niskayuna students pose together moments before the pep rally began in the high school's gymnasium. Friday, Oct. 14, 2016.

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NISKAYUNA- Screaming filled the gym on Friday, Oct. 14, as hundreds of Niskayuna students took to the bleachers for a pep rally, organized in part by the Warrior Project.

“Our goal as a club is to show people outside of the community the good qualities of Niskayuna athletics and of the school,” Emma Skumurski, a Niskayuna senior and co-president of the Project, along with Matt Toy.

The pep rally was brought back after a 15 year gap according to Kristin Sweeter, an N-CAP leader.

Student enthusiasm both on the bleachers and on the court was enough to make up for the gap, or at least it seemed that that’s what they were going for.

The Warrior Project – which is affiliated with N-CAP – is made up of student athletes who have been nominated by their varsity coaches. They work to encourage the zero-tolerance drug/alcohol policy of the school and sportsmanship to younger athletes. In their third year, the Project is working to bring a bit more school spirit to Niskayuna.

The rally was brought back in 2015 by the club’s co-presidents as a way to encourage school pride and unity between athletes and spectators.

“We are looking to create a closer knit community between athletics and the student body. This year, spirit week, headed by Pep Club, has so far been a success with most of the students and teachers participating,” Skumurski said.

The Pep Club and the Warrior Project kept the rally as high octane as they could with fast paced knock out competitions, a few school spirit raps, and a contest that had participants competing to be the first to get a cookie from their foreheads to their mouths sans hands.

The Project’s second pep rally was also commemorative. John Furey – the varsity baseball and football coach – was just hours away from coaching his last home football game. Furey was one of the first to receive a few ear-splitting cheers from the crowd.

Students who were All-State performers with the New York State School Music Association were recognized, along with students who were National Merit Finalists.

This brought back the idea of cohesion between the athletic community and the rest of the school community.

The Warrior Project is also focusing on bringing that sense of cohesion and guidance into the middle schools.

Earlier in October, Warriors volunteered with students at Van Antwerp’s Community Day.

We had three classes where we worked with younger athletes and discussed with them the effects of the use of drugs and alcohol on yourself as a student-athlete in the high school.  We also played the game Taps, where you must work as a team to keep a frisbee in the air for as long as possible.  This helped to show the younger athletes the importance of good sportsmanship, communication and teamwork.,” Skumurski said.