The Birdcage is Back!


Student fans cheer on AJ Rollins as shoots a free throw vs. Westside. The Birdcage returned for the annual rivalry game.

Ethan Buso, Jay Journal Staff

The Junior Jays were back in action last Friday night against rival Westside High School. The Jays are off to a hot 14-1 start, but they’ve been doing it without one of their most important pieces: the Birdcage. 50 students were in attendance for Friday’s rivalry game against in the Heider Center versus Westside High School.

“The NSAA has set a guideline of recommendations for us to follow, and within those guidelines we can have a certain number of people there based on what [the NSAA] allows and our own school feels safe with.” Prep Athletic Director, Dr. Dan Schinzel said.

There are 18 schools in the Metropolitan Conference, and those schools have been working on trying to find the safest ways to play and attend these sports. After the NSAA allowed fans to be in attendance, it was up to the schools to make their own decision.

“[We] have been meeting and working together every month, sometimes more than that, to revise and find the safest ways to go about these sports since the start of the fall sports season,” Schinzel said.

In the fall, after 3 weeks of empty stands for the football season, the NSAA allowed a certain number of fans in. It started with a small amount and moved up every week. The decision to allow fans into the basketball games has taken longer than it did in the fall.

“Obviously winter sports being indoors complicates things a bit. It was a lot easier to make the decision for fall sports because it was outdoors and we could space out a lot better.” Schinzel added.

One of the biggest advocates for getting fans into the stands has been Prep’s Head of Student Activities, Mrs. Sara Smith. Smith is in charge of the birdcage and planning things for the students to do at the games. 

“It’s a frustrating reality, not being at these games and missing out on things we normally get to do.” Smith said.

Smith has been working on making the birdcage return as great as possible while maintaining a safe environment for the students. She has been working with the student council members on coming up with fun things to do to get the students excited for the game.

“We ordered 50 stickers to space out on the bleachers that say ‘perch here’ for students to stand on. We also ordered terrible towels with the birdcage logo on it for all the students,” Smith said.

In the Metro conference all schools are allowed to make decisions that they feel are safest for their students. Schools will base their attendance rules on the size of their facilities. Smith said that Prep’s Heider Center is the perfect venue.

“The Heider Center is so amazing, and it’s huge. We should feel extremely safe and extra spaced in a place like that.”