Eagles ultras

The screams of the Eagles Ultras reverberate around the school. Drums bang alongside the persistent jumping on the bleachers, while members of the freshmen class passionately sing chants and support their peers. The self-proclaimed “most loyal Eagles supporters,” smile until the buzzer of each game.   

Eagles Ultras is a newly- founded group organized to support the JJV and JV teams of all sports. The group was founded by Mark Haghani (’18), Jonny Sheves (’18), and Dylan Middlebrook (’18).

“The founders and I originally came up with the idea when a group of my friends started chanting for our friend,  [Matthew Clement (’18)], on the JJV boys basketball team, as he just came back from an injury,” Haghani said. “We just spontaneously started singing and chanting, which eventually led to the formation of the group.”

Progressively, the Ultras have attended, they have created more songs for all the players on the team. They have derived these songs from various existing soccer chants from around the world.

“To start the group, we started a Facebook page and told everyone about the group. We invited as many people to join [as possible], and the group is very open to have anyone come join the Ultras,” Haghani said.

“We had to talk to [Athletic Director John] Farmer and [Grade 9 Dean Renee] Green for further ideas on how to expand the group and get accessories like a flag and drum,” Haghani said.

“My favorite part about the group is that it’s a great way to hang out with your friends and show your support for your school,” Haghani said.

Haghani believes the presence of the Ultras strongly resembles his experience during ISSTs soccer in the fall, where a significant amount of students came to Canons Park to attend the varsity boys soccer games. “When I played in the ISST games for soccer, I realized how amazing it is to have the support of your peers,” Haghani said. “Every time I would chase down a ball in that match, people would start chanting, and it made me feel so good.

After that day I really wanted to repay the school, so we formed this group.”

Although Haghani believes that the Eagles Ultras have made a beneficial impact on the community, Mariam Sousou (’18) does not share the same view.

“The first game that they came to, we played really badly because we had this constant pressure on us,” Sousou said. “My first thoughts were ‘Why are you here? Please get out of our game!’ I was so mad and even told my teammates to tell them to stop coming to our games.”

“In the first game, when my teammate,  [Taegen Kopfler (’17)], was taking a freethrow, they started doing a drum roll, which is really nerve-wracking,” Sousou said.

Despite Sousou’s initial qualms about the Ultras, she and the JV girls team have gradually begun to appreciate the Ultras and enjoy seeing their peers as well as their parents at the games.

“After a few games, I realized that the Ultras have good intentions, they just need to tweak a few structural things that can ease the pressure when we are playing,” Sousou said.

One issue Sousou witnesses the with Eagles Ultras is unequal treatment for each player.

“Sometimes they cheer for people that are on the bench. They use the same chants over and over for the same people. They even cheer for themselves, which I don’t understand,” Sousou said.

While Haghani admits some chants tend to repeat themselves more than others, he maintains the importance of refraining from focusing on a select few.

“We do sing some chants more than others; that’s just the way these chants are. Some are more catchy than others. It’s not like we prioritize which chants to sing. We always try to incorporate as many chants for all players on the team,” Haghani said.

Nevertheless, Sousou still believes that there is still not as much support for the JV girls than there are for the other teams. “Even when there are only two freshmen on the JJV team, they have supported them more than us,” Sousou said.

Though some members of the community believe the group poses problems regarding equal attention to each team, Farmer believes that the Eagles Ultras have great ideas and has given them his full support.

“I think it’s awesome. The fact that they want to cheer for the JJV and JV teams, I think that’s really great,” Farmer said.

Farmer thinks that the Eagles Ultras demonstrate the values of school spirit through their dedicated fanaticism.

“They never cheer against the other team, just for ASL and come up with funny songs and things to get people excited,” Farmer said.

“What’s really cool is the other schools, when [ACS Egham] came, the head coach said to me ‘This is great! We never get an atmosphere like this at our home games’,” Farmer said.

“The Eagles Ultras have really affected home games in a great way. Traditionally, the varsity games get a better turnout and get more crowds. But the fact that now JJV and JV games are getting their share of support is really amazing,” Farmer said.

Farmer feels that the Ultras could be problematic if the group was exclusive to others wanting to be a part of the group, but because they have opened up to anyone who wants to be a part of it, he believes that the group does not present any imminent problems.

Looking ahead, Farmer hopes that the Eagles Ultras will continue cheering on the JV and JJV teams into this coming spring season and next year.

Similar to Farmer, Haghani also has future goals for the expansion of the Ultras. “My goal for the Ultras is to eventually get the support of the entire High School, rather than just the freshmen class,” Haghani said.