MHSAA announces finalists for Battle of the Fans

Published 9:39 am Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Dowagiac is seen here accepting its banner after winning the 2015 Battle of the Fans title. The Chieftains finished in the top 10 again this year, but were not named a finalist. (Leader photo/File)

Dowagiac is seen here accepting its banner after winning the 2015 Battle of the Fans title. The Chieftains finished in the top 10 again this year, but were not named a finalist. (Leader photo/File)

Five finalists have been selected for the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s “Battle of the Fans V,” which will again recognize the top student cheering section from among member schools and culminate in a ceremony including all five finalists during this season’s Boys Basketball Finals at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center.

Yale, a finalist in 2015, again is in the running and joined by Charlotte, Munising, Muskegon Western Michigan Christian and 2014 finalist Traverse City West. This year’s pool of 22 applicants was the second-largest in Battle of the Fans history and largest since 2013.

Battle of the Fans V, organized by MHSAA staff and its 16-member Student Advisory Council, will reward the cheering section that best creates the positive and festive atmosphere made possible when students show enthusiasm, togetherness and sportsmanship while rooting for their team. MHSAA staff and Student Advisory Council members will visit all five finalists for home boys basketball games during the second half of this regular season, with coverage and video from those visits and the announcement of the winner all to be published on the MHSAA Second Half website (

Schools were invited in December to submit short videos, via YouTube, of their cheering sections in action. The winner will be announced Feb. 19, and video of all five sections will be played on the Breslin Center HD scoreboard during the Finals in March. The champion and finalists also will be recognized during the Boys Semifinals on March 25.

This year’s finalists include at least one school from each MHSAA Class — A, B, C and D — and 16 of 22 finalists received at least one top-five vote from a member of the Student Advisory Council.

“This was not only one of the largest, but top-to-bottom it’s one of the strongest fields of applicants we’ve had during the five years of Battle of the Fans,” said Andy Frushour, MHSAA director of brand management and advisor to the Student Advisory Council.  “It shows this program is growing. Schools know about it and look forward to taking part. And most importantly, the message is continuing to spread that students can have a blast rooting on their classmates in a positive way.”

Video submissions included explanations on how each section met the following contest criteria: positive sportsmanship, student body participation, school spirit, originality of cheers, organization of the group, student section leadership and overall fun.

The finalists were chosen by the Student Advisory Council, and the winner will be selected by another Advisory Council vote based in part on activity on the MHSAA’s social media sites. All social media postings regarding Battle of the Fans V should include the hashtag #BOTF. The MHSAA will post throughout the finalists tour on its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram sites and Snapchat feed.

Finalists will be visited for the following home basketball games:

• Jan. 15: Armada at Yale

• Jan. 23: Spring Lake at Muskegon Western Michigan Christian

•Feb. 4: Traverse City Central at Traverse City West

• Feb. 5: Eben Junction Superior Central at Munising

• Feb. 12Parma Western at Charlotte

Big Rapids, Detroit U-D Jesuit, Dowagiac, Tawas Area and Wayland Union, listed here in alphabetical order, rounded out the top 10 in the vote to select the finalists.

This year’s group guarantees another first-time winner to go with Frankenmuth in 2012, Buchanan in 2013, Beaverton in 2014 and Dowagiac last winter.

This year’s applicants brought the total number of schools that have entered the contest at least once to 75, with Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard — a finalist in 2013 — the only school to apply all five years. Traverse City West has applied three times, Munising and Yale twice, and Charlotte and Western Michigan Christian were first-time entrants this year.