Blotches of navy and gold were scattered among the home crowd. Hundreds of shirts bearing the phrase “Oxford Strong” sat on a table for sale. A marching band played the fight song of Oxford High School.
But this wasn’t a home game for the Wildcats. Instead, it was an atmosphere created by the Marysville hockey team.
The Vikings held “We Are All Wildcats” night during their 5-2 victory over Oxford-Avondale United at McMorran Arena on Wednesday. It was the program’s way of showing support for the Oxford community in the wake of November’s tragedy, when a 15-year-old student shot and killed four classmates at the township’s high school.
“All around the country, there is this community of support for Oxford,” said Ella Webb, a junior at Marysville, who volunteered to sell shirts for a fundraiser during the game. “We just want to be there for them because we’re near them and we’re on the ice playing with them. We want to reach out with our support to them as much as possible.”
A moment of silence was held before the game to honor the four students who were killed: Tate Myre, Hana St. Juliana, Madisyn Baldwin and Justin Shilling.
Marysville’s marching band, which filled an entire section at McMorran, played Oxford’s fight song, fans wore Wildcats colors and the Vikings had Oxford decals on their helmets. They wanted to make the visitors from 43 miles away feel right at home.
“I think it made the night special for everybody,” Marysville coach John Hartig said. “Obviously, that was a horrible thing that happened. And to bring — I thought we would have our pep band here, but we had 100 (band) members show up. So within a couple days to learn to play their fight song, that was cool.”
The rendition went off without a hitch, in what was the loudest musical number the group played all night.
“It’s an honor (to host Oxford),” said Marysville forward Braden Turner, who scored two goals in the win. “I know it’s been hard for them. They’ve had to go through a lot.”
For one night at least, Marysville made sure Oxford wouldn’t go through it alone.
“It is really cool to see this,” Webb said. “We just want to be, you know, on their team. Even if we’re not (technically) on their team.”
“That’s what it’s all about is community,” Hartig said. “And standing behind a community that’s devastated. So it’s special night for everybody.”
Fans can visit www.supportoxfordstrong.com to purchase “Oxford Strong” apparel. All proceeds will go to the Oxford Community Memorial & Victims Fund.
Contact Brenden Welper at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BrendenWelper