‘Dream team’ comes together through school spirit

Seniors reflect on what it means to be leaders


Courtesy of Erin Struwe

Posing for a photo are seniors Matthew Davidson, Landon Bownds, Ali Brandt, Brian Thomason, S.P. Webb and Michael Beals. They prepare to bring school spirit to the students at the football game. “We help set up a student section whether it is you know, banners in the front row or little streamers all on the bleachers,” Davidson said. “(We) get there at 4:45 and then start hyping up the crowd, bringing the energy to football players (and) doing all that.”

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Music blares as students file in one by one until the seats are fully packed. Shining lights swivel around the arena that seats 2,288 people and illuminate beaming faces. The cheerleaders ruffle their pom poms as the drummers bang the drums. One of the five spirit leaders grabs the microphone to set the beat for the rest of the night, as the beat of the music shakes the floor.

Seniors Landon Bownds, Brian Thomason, Ali Brandt, Matthew Davidson, SP Webb and Michael Beals served as spirit leaders this year. Tryouts for next year’s spirit leaders will be held at the end of this year. Some leaders are from all around the world, including Okinawa, Japan and Prosper natives.

Bownds, originally from Frisco, moved to Prosper eight years ago. He plans on attending Texas A&M next year. He said the spirit supplies life to the school.

“It’s kind of like the heartbeat of a lot of what happens in our school,” Bownds said. “I’m a firm believer that the more people are proud of where they go to school and how they view their school, makes them not only a better student, but brings a better energy around.”

I really love how outgoing and cheerful they are, especially at games and pep rallies. They know how to hype the crowd up and have fun!”

— Athena Pinar, junior

Bownds said the spirit program provides a sense of pride in Prosper and allows students to cheer on their sports teams.

“We cheer on our basketball programs,” Bownds said. “We cheer on our football programs all the way to our esports programs. That’s pretty much the spirit program: we bring the energy where it needs to be brought.”

Brian Thomason, originally from Okinawa, Japan, grew up in Brownwood, TX. He moved to Prosper in the eighth grade, and has been playing guitar for almost 13 years. He became a spirit leader beside his girlfriend who is a fellow leader.

“Last year right before school ended, one of our other spirit leaders, also my girlfriend, Ali asked me if I wanted to be a spirit leader,” Thomason said. “She said it’d be a great way to end our senior year, and she finally talked me into it. Saying yes to being a spirit leader was 100% the best decision I made.”

Ali Brandt, originally from Georgia, moved to Prosper in eighth grade as well. She has spent her whole life playing soccer, and this year, she is also in student leadership and powerlifting.

I wanted to be a spirit leader just to engage more in Prosper, and hopefully get other people to engage more,” Brandt said. “Like Landon said earlier, I truly do believe that when you are proud of where you are, it can make everything a whole lot more fun.”

Posing for a selfie are Prosper High School’s spirit leaders. Senior Landon Bownds spoke about his experience as a leader and the team. “I’ve been doing it for two years, and I wouldn’t want to do anything else,” Bownds said. “There’s not a single person I would take out or put into this group.”
(Michael Beals)

Matthew Davidson, a Prosper native, was inspired to become a leader by another one of his fellow leaders.

I think definitely the moment that I wanted to become a spirit leader is when I lost to Landon in the senior class presidential race by three votes,” Davidson said. “He texted me on Snapchat. He was like, ‘dude, you gotta do it,’ and I was like – ‘Well, I don’t know, you know?  I’m kind of a shy guy myself.’ And then, I tried out. I loved it from the second I tried out, and I knew I had to be a part of it. It was fun.”

After Davidson shared his experience as a spirit leader, Bownds commented on Davidson’s tryout.

I will say, Matt’s tryout had to be the best tryout that will go down in school history,” said Bownds. “It was quite memorable – besides Brian dropping the mic.”

Michael Beals, fellow spirit leader and soccer team member, spoke on behalf of Davidson’s tryout.

“He had the courage to tryout alone,” Beals said. “I tried out with Landon and everyone else tried out with partners. He went out there by himself, started his own chant that he made himself, and absolutely killed it. I knew then and there that he was going to be picked.”

Davidson’s experience as a spirit leader will help him beyond high school. He plans on attending the Naval Academy.

“I think being a spirit leader has helped me develop myself as a leader,” Davidson said. “(That’s what) the academy is all about, and it has also helped me get out of my comfort zone, which I believe will help me not only in the academy but in the military as well.”

Beals appreciates his fellow spirit leaders, and gives Bownds credit for convincing him to try out.

I love them to death, and they gave me the confidence and support to be the best leader I could be,” Beals said. “I would also like to thank Landon Bownds for practically dragging me to the spirit leader tryouts, because I was too scared to put myself out there.”

If I could say that everything about being a spirit leader was my favorite then I would. Other than that, my favorite thing is definitely my fellow spirit leaders. I love them to death and they gave me the confidence and support to be the best leader I could be.”

— Michael Beals, spirit leader

SP Webb has lived in Prosper since the second grade. She says she is a natural-born leader, and she plans to play soccer at the University of North Texas after she graduates.

I’ve always been seen as a leader because of how I’ve been put in (soccer-related) situations,” Webb said. “I think being a spirit leader is so good because all the eyes are on you, and it’s just a way to shine your light (doing) a new thing.” 

Webb connects her experiences with soccer to her role as a spirit leader.

“For me, my whole life has been soccer,” Webb said. “So to be able to go out and do something that I’m not always comfortable with is just super helpful – and I just think it’s a super good way to be a leader, because everyone’s looking at you. If you’re making the right choices, everyone knows who you are, so it’s just a great way to lead.”

Davidson’s opportunity to become a spirit leader led him to become more active in school events and activities.

Me personally, the past three years of my high school, I wasn’t really involved in a lot, you know, the high school football games I never went to – I only went to maybe one homecoming game and that’s it,” Davidson said. “But now, ever since I joined, I’ve been the most active I’ve ever been in my whole high school career.”

Brandt said her biggest challenge is public speaking.

It’s not the fact that you’re speaking in public,” Brandt said. “It’s the fact that all of the people you’re speaking to, could be just completely judging you in the moment. And most of the time, they are. It is definitely a hard thing to overcome when you’re thinking about it.”

Webb steps out of her comfort zone as a leader and gains strong leadership skills.

“Being a spirit leader just really helped me get outside of the box and like it took something that was uncomfortable and made it fun which really helps like going into a career,” Webb said. “I (can now) speak in front of people and (although) I’ll still be nervous, I’ll have the skills to do that.”

Thomason said planning the skits for pep rallies is not as easy as it seems.

“Some people think that like, oh, you know, this is like a quick two-minute thing,” Thomason said. ” Like, no, you have a time limit on stuff. You gotta get other people involved, not just the spirit leaders. And you (have) to think of something that the students will like, because we’re doing it for the students in the school. You (have to) make sure they like it, then you do it.”

The opinions of others have not stopped the team from reaching their full potential.

“Some people see it as a weird thing,” Bownds said. “There’s some (people that think we) are just kind of strange, but there’s things you got to do to get to the point where you want to be at, and you get proud about where you go to school. This is kind of how you do that.”

I like the spirit leaders, because they always bring lots of energy to pep rallies and school events to make them even better. ”

— Nicole Steel, sophomore

Thomason said their goal is to get more people involved. They fulfilled this accomplishment by promoting a competition.

“For the hot dog eating competition, we had to sit outside a cafeteria,” Thomason said. “We spoke about it, and seeing kids, you know, freshmen, sophomores and juniors get up and rushing and come and sign up, probably was a good happy moment for us, because we realized that we were doing our job and getting kids involved with the school and activities.”

Davidson said he has seen a difference from this year and the last.

“Even the spirit around the school when compared to last year (is different,)” Davidson said. “I mean, you know how many kids came up to me and they’re like, ‘Oh my God, you’re a spirit leader, like that’s so cool.’ Last year, I was like, ‘Oh my Lord have mercy, this is terrible,’ but it has done a complete 180 in my life.”

Brandt’s leadership role has allowed others around her to want to be like her.

“My sister who is a sophomore, and her friends have talked to me (saying) they want to be a spirit leader because of things that we’ve done,” Brandt said. “It makes them want to do more. I just think that’s cool to see.”

The spirit program in the previous year was drastically different than this year.

“Last year, I mean, it was just not as good but I feel like we kind of got somewhere with it,” Bownds said. “I started to see some promise (and) we just needed a better group. Last year we didn’t have tryouts, because no one wanted to do it. It was all signups and I kind of got forced to do it by Señor Salas.”

Bownds said everyone on the team matters.

“There’s not a single person I would take out or put into this group,” Bownds said. “Going into this year, what made it so great is that this crew we got right now is the dream team.”

Bownds said he had a specific goal as a spirit leader: to make a difference.

“I want to be the one that walks into a room – walks into a school – and brings in energy that makes everyone else’s lives around it better than what it was before,” Bownds said. “And, so that’s kind of our ultimate goal – what we want to leave behind here.”

His teammates agreed.

“Couldn’t have said that better,” Thomason said. “Amen.”

Updated Feb. 24. 2023