The Story of Rattle City

The Story of Rattle City

Peter Willis

Rattle City took on a Christmas theme at a boys varsity basketball game on December 22.

Caroline Cafasso

If you come to a Franklin High School sports game, there’s a good chance you’ll see the famous Rattle City. In fact, it probably would be hard to miss.

You’ll see dozens of FHS students, some decked out in odd and festive costumes, and others holdings signs and pictures. Everyone, however, will be chanting and screaming, rooting for their beloved Panthers.

So what exactly is Rattle City? Despite its size and prominence, there are still many FHS students, particularly underclassmen, who do not know or understand its role. It may be because the name “Rattle City” may not have an obvious meaning to everyone. The idea is to have a fan section that is so rowdy and enthusiastic that it psyches the opposing team out. It was inspired by various colleges whose students practiced such a strategy during sports games.

Matt Mancini is a senior and one of the three FHS students, along with seniors Anthony Chaiton and Mike Sullivan, who have taken over the leadership of Rattle City and control its Twitter account – which has nearly 1,000 followers. When asked about Rattle City’s origins, Matt explained that it “started due to the unique fan section spot we had in the field house allowing us to distract the other team very well. Over time, it grew and it became Rattle City in 2012 when the first t-shirt came.”

FHS began selling Rattle City apparel in its DECA store, and its Twitter account was created in December 2012. FHS 2013 graduates Nick Montanaro and Ryan Casey are credited as two co-founders of Rattle City.

Since then, the fanbase has grown and can be seen at nearly every school sports event. They are even known to tailgate occasionally before important games, such as before this past Thanksgiving football game. Rattle City’s presence has not only cultivated a distinct, supportive, and exciting FHS culture, but also might be contributing to athletic victories in recent years, with several teams being named Hockomock champions and even making it to the playoffs in their sport.

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Rattle City in full effect at a basketball game last January

Creating a Legacy

Like any success story, Rattle City has seen highs and lows over the past few years.

In March of 2014, Rattle City was featured in an article on ESPN Boston’s website. FHS’s varsity basketball team was battling St. John’s of Shrewsbury for the MIAA Division 1 Central title, but Rattle City and St. John’s “Superfans” made the game that much more exciting by having their own competition for the most devoted and creative fan section. Rattle City was a significant focus of the article, allowing its popularity to continue to grow.

The group also managed to raise $1,000 in sponsorship from TruMoo Protein Plus in order to be able to create better custom apparel. In November 2014, members of the FHS community could help support the cause by doing certain tasks such as simply viewing the sponsorship, watching a short video, or uploading and sharing a photo on Facebook.

Some conflict came to Rattle City in the winter of the 2012-2013 school year, shortly after its Twitter account was created. There was a period whether it was unclear whether Rattle City would be able to keep its account after the FHS administration questioned its appropriateness.

More recently, Rattle City has been faced bigger controversy regarding the conduct of one of the members. On December 22, 2014, the FHS boys varsity basketball team had its first home game against Oliver Ames in the new gymnasium. There was a great deal of anticipation and excitement, and Rattle City was entirely dressed in a Christmas theme. However, one FHS student and leader of Rattle City made an inappropriate statement about a player during the game. This caused the student to be expelled from the game and receive a spectator suspension for the rest of the basketball season.

According to Mr. Sidwell, the athletic director of FHS, Rattle City is spoken to “every year, before every season” about conduct for the games. He provided Pantherbook with the Hockomock League Fan Expectations. This document states that “integrity, fairness, and respect are the principles of good sportsmanship” and lists what is considered to be “unacceptable fan behavior.” Such behavior includes “making derogatory chants, songs, or gestures” and “calling out an opponent’s name or number.”

Mr. Sidwell, who is not responsible for punitive actions for students, stated that he has seen “no change” in terms of Rattle City’s numbers and energy. FHS basketball competed against Catholic Memorial on Sunday, January 4, and Mr. Sidwell said that there was still “a big crowd here Sunday.” He thinks that Rattle City should stay as great and positive as it has been for the past few years, but that there are rules we all must adhere to as well.

There has been a mixed reaction from students regarding these recent events. Matt Mancini says that Rattle City has been “warned not to cross the line” and that this specific student “crossed it.” He acknowledges that the particular student “will definitely be missed in the crowd… with all the changes and limitations such as moving us to the side of the court, it definitely upset some people.” However, Matt does add what happened “set an example.”

Rattle City members and seniors Kyle Lundgren and Ben Chaffee shared their own thoughts about the issue. Both Ben and Kyle were present at this specific basketball game. When Ben was asked about Rattle City’s initial reaction, he said that what happened “pretty much just angered us.” Kyle Lundgren is “upset that [the student] can’t spectate the rest of the season, but [I’m] not going to fight it because what [the student] said was wrong.”

Despite what happened, the group seems to be moving on to the future. Even with all the change that has occurred this school year, Rattle City has stood as tall as ever, and will likely become a significant part of FHS history.

Come out to a sports game this winter and upcoming spring to join Rattle City in supporting the Panthers.