Mainland is No. 1 in nation in school spirit

Mainland Regional has the best school spirit in the nation.

At least, that’s according to Under Armour, the athletic apparel company that is based in Baltimore.

Mainland, which was devastated in August by the death of four football players in an automobile accident, was named the winner of Under Armour’s “Finding Undeniable” contest on Thursday night.

“It was an unreal experience,” said Mainland athletic director Mike Gately, who was on the field for the announcement at halftime of the Under Armour All-American football game Thursday night in The Tropicana Dome in St. Petersburg, Fla.

As the winner of the first-year contest that challenged schools around the country to show their spirit -- through cheers, band performances and mascot challenges as well as generating online votes -- Mainland will receive $182,000 worth of athletic apparel from Under Armour over a two-year period.

Gately said an Under Armour representative will be assigned to Mainland to work with school officials to design new uniforms for the athletic teams. Mainland will receive $102,000 over two years in uniforms and $40,000 each year in other items such as footwork and other apparel.

Mainland, a regional school in Linwood, Atlantic County, that also serves students from Northfield and Somers Point, was rocked last summer by the death of four football players – Edgar Bozzi, 17; Casey Brenner, 17; Nick Connor, 16, and Dean Khoury, 15 – who were involved in an accident on the Garden State Parkway on their way to meet with teammates for a post-practice meal.

"This was total school involvement," Gately said. "It wasn't just the athletic teams. It was the band, the student council, everybody."

Noting that Mainland's community was energized by involvement in this contest, which began Sept. 1 -- just days after the funerals of the four football players -- Gately said, "It was divine intervention."

-- Phil Anastasia

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