The head boys' basketball coach at Cherokee Bluff High School in Flowery Branch, Ga., has brought a tradition to the two-year-old school from his days at Gainesville High, 14 miles away.
Around halftime of girls' games scheduled before the boys take the court, boys' team members break into small groups, enter the bleachers and greet every fan with a handshake and a word of thanks.
“In this day and age, there’s a lot of people that don’t appreciate what they have,” Cherokee Bluff coach Benjie Wood told The Times of Gainesville, where the tradition began, albeit with less frequency. “We want to make sure that our program is a program that does appreciate all the blessings we have. We want to make sure we share that with the people who help.”
As reported by The Times, the Bears were excited to have an outlet to express their gratitude after an offseason full of volunteer help and sponsorship from many of the fans in attendance.
“It’s awesome,” senior guard Griffin Neville said. “It’s a special fan base. I don’t think any other school has it like we do.”
As the players walk the bleachers mere minutes before they take the court, many wear white, long sleeved shirts decorated with a Cherokee Bluff logo and the word “Family.”
“Try to make the school one big family,” said senior guard Davon Ruffins of the goal behind the tradition. “Try to get it through everybody’s head that this is more than just basketball.”
“That’s the great part about it, people really want to be with each other,” Wood said. “Across sports, we really support each other, and the community here really wants to be a part of it. It’s a like a big family. It’s been a lot of fun.”