Lancer Nation Appreciation

A tribute to the role WHS school spirit plays in their student-athletes’ success


Cassidy Susi, Editor

By Cassidy Susi

To all the Waterford High Students reading this article: take a second to appreciate that you are within the short, four-year timespan in which you have the privilege to be a part of a fandom like no other. Those who have graduated dream of one more opportunity to dress head to toe in blue, surrounded by their closest friends, and cheer for a game of five-on-five. Meanwhile, those who have yet to experience life within Waterford’s student section watch us in awe, waiting for the day they will finally hold a seat as a Lancer. Whether you are on the court or in the bleachers, you are in a golden era. You are a part of something bigger than sports, bigger than yourself. You are in Lancer Nation.  


The origins of Lancer Nation date back to the class of 2004, when seniors Ted Glynn and Tyler Brett created the first T-shirts. Rather than introducing the idea as a school fundraiser, however, the profits went directly to their pockets. This mini-business earned the two boys scholarships for school spirit. As years passed, the baton was relayed down the line as other seniors sold the popular “Lancer Nation” shirts. It was in 2006 that students had created the design with Coors Light mountains in the background, and consequently, the administration decided to step in and make it a class fundraiser instead.


The overwhelming presence of Lancer Nation enveloped spectators at basketball games for years. From reading newspapers as the opposing team runs out, to the crowd spelling “Lancers” as a student jumps across the court on each letter, traditions among the Nation have withstood the test of time. These rituals, along with Waterford’s talented basketball programs, have brought attention and success to both the team and the students supporting them. The commitment of the Lancer fans was even referred to as the best student section in the ECC by the popular sports writer of The Day newspaper, Mike DiMauro, in 2012, when the Nation helped push the Lancers basketball team up to a state title. Even sports history always repeats itself, as last season the “Best Fans Section” Twitter page recognized Waterford fans several times throughout their journey to the Mohegan Sun Arena.


Sure, the 2018 Connecticut State Champions basketball team included several incredible athletes, all of which could have had a winning season on any team. However, what makes Waterford both ECC and State Champions last season is inevitably the Nation. As an insider on the energy this section creates, senior, Liam Spellman explains, “Playing in front of a sea of blue or white all screaming for you to do great is surreal. The adrenaline I get every time is priceless.” Teammate JJ Brennan adds, “Lancer Nation contributes to us a lot. They get us hyped up and they get in the opponent’s head!”


Even coaches from opposing teams can’t deny the energy Waterford’s crowd provides at both home and on-the-road games. Jeffrey Bernardi, head coach of East Lyme basketball, agrees that “The environment at both of our games last season was terrific. Had to be the best environment for a game throughout the state.” He admits that “Afterwards the atmosphere of the gym was all people were talking about for weeks. I am definitely looking forward to that.”


Bernardi leads the Vikings as Waterford’s biggest rivalry. And when these games roll around, it’s showtime for the Lancer Nation commits. As Coach Bassett puts it, “When it came to HUGE games last year, Lancer Nation ignited the energy level so that our players could perform at the highest level they could.”


So, what does all this reflecting on the Nation’s glory days of last year’s victory say about the future of the beloved student section? Well, in my opinion, the Lancers have never been more hyped to get out there and start supporting. In fact, Lancer Nation season began a little early this year, when bunches of students began travelling and chanting at volleyball games throughout the season. The gang even layered up to watch a crucial field hockey game on the girls’ senior night, cheering them to a huge victory over Woodstock. This year could be a new renaissance for Waterford High School students, as the loyalty of the Nation’s members extends beyond the boys’ basketball team. This Nation is different–bold, fired up, and devoted to maintaining the school’s prestigious athletic image, in every corner of the picture.


To members of the group that earned the title of “Best Student Section in the State” from multiple sources, I challenge you to not just continue, but exceed the standards of this reputation. We know that without Lancer Nation, Waterford High would be just another talented school with well-trained student-athletes. The Lancers’ head coach, William Bassett agrees that the section’s supporters are “an integral part of the success of the basketball team.”


Waterford High students are gearing up to “pack the X” all winter long. Who’s ready to storm the court uncontrollably after cheering, “I believe that we just won?” Who’s ready for the electric rumble of feet pounding on wood as the crowd gets ready to ride a roller coaster in the bleachers? On that note, who’s ready for Lancer Nation?