Barred from Stands, Fans and Families Show Support in Other Ways

Barred from the stands due to statewide coronavirus restrictions, Canby Cougar families and supporters are finding other ways to show student-athletes how much they care — whether that’s seeing the teams off when they head out of town — or filling Cougar Stadium with fake “fans.”

Shelli Markell, mother of senior Canby quarterback and defensive back Zack Markell, would never miss a game — home or away — under normal circumstances. And the same is true for a tight-knit network of Cougar faithful: parents, alumni, family and community members.

But statewide limits on the numbers of people allowed to be in attendance at indoor or outdoor athletic contests — which schools and leagues are required to strictly enforce — left them little choice.

Hence, the Canby Cougar football team taking the field for its season opener last week to find the stands at Cougar Stadium packed with colorful effigies.

Senior parents and community members decorated Cougar Stadium with banners of every senior player and cardboard boxes decked out in Cougar blue and gold. Photo by Tyler Francke.

The fan stand-ins — or “fand-ins,” if you will — were actually large cardboard boxes with blue and gold Cougar T-shirts draped over them.

Markell, Staci Sprague and other moms of Canby High School student-athletes also hung banners recognizing every senior player (which will go back up for every home game) and erected a blue and gold balloon arch for the team to run through.

“We wanted to cheer up the stadium for their first time stepping on any type of field in over a year,” Markell said. “And, since we couldn’t be there, we did our best to not have them run out to an empty stadium.”

On Friday, with the Cougs headed to Hare Field in Hillsboro for their first away game of the season, Markell, Sprague and the others organized a colorful send-off party.

Parents and family members lined Southwest 4th Street with signs and homemade banners, while the Canby Cougar dance and cheer teams rah-rahed to the Canby High School fight song.

“This is our way of showing our boys, the coaches and staff, even if we can’t be there physically, we are doing whatever we can to show our support and how much we care,” said Markell. “We have their backs and are rooting for them from afar. The boys have handled the pandemic with class and they deserve an amazing season!”

The Canby Cougar cheer squad performs outside the high school as the Cougar football team heads to Hillsboro on Friday, March 12. Photo by Tyler Francke.

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