On one hand, Friday Nights at Wylie are all about football; one the other, they are about so much more than football.
Literally hundreds of Wylie students help make Friday nights so special – kids wearing their Bulldog tattoos and their purple and gold, cheerleaders pumping up the crowd, Spike high-fiving the fans, the band getting everyone dancing, the drum line tapping out a beat, Vision twirling their flags, the Belles doing the real dancing, and the student section with their silly antics.
And of course, an exciting football game that keeps the fans in a frenzy.
Nothing beats football Fridays in Texas, especially at Bulldog Stadium in Abilene, Texas.
“It’s so fun,” said Zoe McCurley, a captain on the Belles, Wylie’s drill team. “When you are in the stands, and the band is playing next to you – it’s really exciting.”
Wylie has a host of traditions that have become important parts of the student and fan experience on Friday nights. One is having the football team run out through a giant purple inflatable helmet.
“I love right when we come out,” said football player Evan Cantrell. “You can just hear the fans already. It’s just awesome.”
Bulldog Cason Grant agreed, saying the excitement builds as soon as the team walks out of the locker room.
“All the dads that are tail-gaiting are yelling at us,” he said. “You walk in and the little kids are watching us. You come out to get into the helmet, and the stands are full. It’s just crazy.”
Cheerleader Abby Melton said Friday nights are the whole reason that the cheerleaders work so hard the rest of the week.
“All week long you look forward to Friday nights,” she said. “This is what we are waiting for. It’s just so exciting.”
Zoe said the same is true for the Belles.
“We have been practicing so much,” Zoe said. “When you get to go perform on Friday nights, it’s such a huge reward.”
Another tradition is for the crowd to yell and the band to play as the team kicks off.
“You get goose bumps when the band is playing, and the football team is kicking off and you are in the stands with your girls,” said Claire Preston, who is also a captain on the Belles.
Friday nights are also a fun time for the band.
“It’s so cool because it’s when all the band members get to have fun playing their music,” said drum major Tanvi Shahane. “Watching all of them go crazy during the games is so cool.”
Fellow drum major Raquel Davis agreed.
“There’s lots of smiling,” she said. “Spirits are high. People really get into the game.”
Evan and Cason said the band plays an important part in Friday nights.
“The band gets us really pumped up,” Cason said. “Especially when we are on defense, and it is 4th down. There’s nothing like it.”
Another tradition is for the band to play as loud as it can when the other team is on offense and facing a key 3rd or 4th down.
The band has been penalized a time or two by the referee for interfering.
“Those intense moments during games are fun,” said Wylie drum major Neely Bolin. “It’s exhilarating.”
Raquel said the band’s goal is to entertain and excite the crowd and encourage the team.
“Everything is better when there’s a soundtrack to it,” she said. “Music can do so much for football players and fans.”
Evan said the crowd is especially noticeable when the Bulldogs make a big play.
“Our fans go crazy,” he said. “Everyone’s cheering.”
After the band and Belles perform at halftime, their work does not end. The cheerleaders are especially busy in the 3rd quarter.
“The 3rd quarter is my favorite part,” Abby said. “The drum line comes down, and we get the student section going.”
Raquel said her favorite part is after the game, when the football team joins the students on the sideline.
“My favorite part is when we play the school song,” she said. “It’s about celebrating their game.”
Cason said the crowd, the band and the cheerleaders are a huge part of the Friday night experience.
“They are always there,” he said. “You can hear it. During plays, you zone it out. You try not to get caught up in that. But you can hear them. You can hear all the fans. It’s a great sound.”