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Toledo Spirit Section Loud and Proud

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Cheer students, wearing farm animal costumes, raise one finger to encourage a player attempting a one-point free throw. If the throw is good, the students follow with a boisterous "whoosh" and a rapid downward motion.

Toledo High School (THS) senior Tyler Crawford is a large, imposing young man but he doesn't play on the basketball team, even with a height of 6' 8". Make no mistake though, he is at every game.

Some would say that his role, along with those in the Toledo Spirit Section, is very important. They are loud, supportive, spirited and disruptive to the other team.

"Each home game, we try to come up with some crazy theme," says Crawford. "At away games, we just kind of keep it simple. It's kind of like intruding on them [the other school's student body] if we do something crazy, so we just try to keep it simple."

That kind of diplomatic philosophy should make a few teams nervous. During a recent game with Adna High School, the amount of enthusiasm on both sides garnered respect.

Adna certainly set a model for Toledo to aspire to.

"Playing against Adna is really fun because it is fun to have a student section competition," explained Crawford. "We are actually planning to combine our student sections during districts for a couple games so that will be really fun."

Imagine the two loudest cheering sections in the area banding together against a particular rival.

"Everything that we do is arranged by the students. We have a really spirited group of kids in the Junior and Senior class so we just do it for fun," details Crawford. "The principal and athletic director help guide us and tell us what we should and shouldn't do to make sure that we are respectful and have good sportsmanship."

One thing that Adna doesn't do is come in the assortment of costumes that THS students dream up.

"We have had costume night, and a Hawaiian beach party theme," said Jenna Peterson.

Peterson is Crawford's lieutenant, who was pointed out as a clear leader in the group, but clearly soft spoken.

Other themes have included a pajama party, neon colors, and duck (dynasty) hunters, among others.

"We actually have a Twitter account where we post the themes and the schedules so everyone can go on there and see," said Crawford.

The spirit section is made up of a variety of student body members, female basketball players, middle school students and on the road, off duty THS cheerleaders. The latter leads a heightened level of organization and impressiveness to the teamwork.

It is also appreciated by the Toledo Basketball players too.

"I think it's one of the best things to have a wonderful student section," said senior post Donevon Merely.

He said the section with just 10 THS students is often louder than the opponents' entire school.

"It's amazing" he said.

With Crawford and Peterson both set to graduate, one has to wonder about the THS Spirit section in the coming years.

"I think it will be different once we graduate and hopefully the underclassmen can keep it going," said Crawford.

Jenna Petersen (left) and Tori Horner (right), part of the Toledo High School cheer section, don Hawaiian-themed costumes early in the school's basketball season.

Kamryn Duffey (left), Tyler Crawford (center) and Jenna Peterson (right) are some of the leaders of the Toledo Spirit section.

THS supporters slap the floor in celebration at Napavine last week after a made free throw.

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