Justin Tylka: human megaphone

It’s Friday night, 7:30 to be exact. The loads of worries, stress, and homework have temporarily been thrown aside. There’s dried orange paint on your black shirt from when you accidentally brushed some off your face. Your large, goofy overalls complement the rest of your outfit, as well as your peers around you. In front of you you’re holding onto a chipped railing, anticipating the start of the game. That railing is all that separates you from the commotion in the field below. And that’s when you see it. As the football team races across the field, a lightning bolt dashes out in front of them with ferocious speed and dexterity. It hoists in its great elephantine arms a massive orange flag with AMES emblazoned on both sides. It sprints from end to the other, never decreasing its extreme pace. As it finishes its round, it sets down its flag and returns to the bleachers. With one giant bound, it clears the very railing holding you back and is greeted by the crowd with a very loud “WOOO!!! YEAH TYLKA!!!” Satisfied with his demonstration of leadership, senior Justin Tylka continues to perch himself at the front of the crowd, ready to cheer on another Ames High football game. “I ride into battle, leading the football team,” Tylka said. Anyone who has attended an Ames football game can back up Tylka’s statement. But he doesn’t just lead the team across the field, he leads the crowd too. “That kid is loud. I mean, like, I could hear him from the parking lot,” senior Preston Burja said. “He yells about stuff, maybe it’s because he’s in trouble. Honestly, I can never understand what he’s saying.” Tylka’s muffled screams are never a cry for help, but rather encouraging cheers to get fans excited for the game. “I have more fun [leading the crowd] than anyone has ever had in the entire world,” Tylka said. “It’s enthralling.” While Tylka is unquestionably important to the fans, one can’t help but wonder why the lovable elephant doesn’t actually play the sport instead. “I decided they needed me more here, than actually out on the field,” Tylka said. “I help more from the bleachers than if I were actually on the field. Also, I heard [senior] Dallas Cunningham was going out this year, and that is just gross.” Despite not officially being part of the team, Tylka still sports the football jersey of alumni Andrew Nelson at every game. So the next time you look out from the stands and see that monster stampeding across the field with his gargantuan flag and long winding trunk, just remember his name and what he sacrifices to make the game so much more enjoyable. When questioned about his cheering compared to that of the Ames cheerleaders, he simply stated: “The magnitude of my cheers is only comparable to the love the cheerleaders emit.”