MARYVILLE, Tenn. — In Maryville, there is nothing quite like high school sports and support from the community in the stands. Alumni are making sure those seats are filled this year.
Students are getting a unique opportunity to attend every Maryville High School sporting event, completely free of charge. Now, students will know how electrifying Maryville football games can be, filled with energy from the packed stands.
"It's just so fun and everyone is so supportive and so excited to cheer on the Rebels," said junior dance team member Ashley Blair.
Now, the roar and support from the stands will get kicked up a notch.
"We went to the all-sports pass, which gives a kid any opportunity to come in for free to every home game for every sport that we play," said Principal Heather Hilton.
Every student at MHS has the opportunity to get into any home sporting event for free. It's not just football either. Volleyball, soccer, softball, baseball, basketball games and many more are all open for sports pass holders.
"It's awesome to know that every kid doesn't have to worry about payment, doesn't have to worry about six games in a week, five games in a week, 'I can only come for 10 minutes, I've got to work, I've got to do that,'" said Hilton. "They can still show up, they can support their friends that are in that event, and they can be part of what we believe is Maryville."
All they have to do is show the card assigned to them with the words "Rebel Pass" on the front, their name and a picture to verify it's really them.
"I will tell you I've never seen such long lines waiting to get in ID ever before," Hilton laughed.
The school came up with the idea as a way to empower kids during a disconnected time in the world.
"When we started the beginning of this year, we just wanted to know that our kids felt like they were back to school, back to being part of everything here with us," Hilton said.
Then, some anonymous alumni found out about the passes and wanted to donate every drop of money to make them happen.
"I think it's awesome to know that your alumni had such incredible opportunities and emotions that back what they remember from high school, that they're willing to donate over and over again to continue that feel, but also, that they're willing to see the kids who are here now and say we want to make sure that there's no opportunity lost," Hilton said.
It's an unreal opportunity for the student-athletes too. They know with more people able to be in the seats to support without the financial barrier, they may perform better on the field or court.
"High school sports is a lot about momentum," said junior basketball plater Lane Pinkerton. "Especially in basketball, if you've got a crowd behind you, and you're going on a run, as the team, if you're down it is very hard for the crowd to be against you, you just feel like you can't do anything. If your team is with you, you feel invincible, you feel like you're just gonna keep scoring."
Extra support in seats brings out success in the already high-scoring school.
"Having all that extra backup and cheer behind you just really helps you feel positive and gives you good reinforcement," sophomore volleyball player Marianna Starritt said.
In the home games so far, like the one against Powell on Thursday, the stands weren't empty at all.
"For every home game, for every sport here at Maryville, we can't wait to see our student section be full, loud and cheering for the Rebels," Hilton said.
The community, crowd and new cards aren't going anywhere any time soon.
Those sports passes don't work at away games, but the fan base says they will support the Rebels on the road as much as possible.