Children of Yost, the Michigan hockey team’s renown student section, is the seventh man on the ice.
They start before the game begins. When away teams enter the rink for warmups, the jeers and chants from the right side corner are already coming.
Once the first period begins, they are in full force. On every save, hit or scoring opportunity, Children of Yost is first to react. And when a player has a bad shift, they let them know the moment they hit the bench.
Last season, COVID-19 prevented an atmosphere in Yost Arena. With the stadium empty, only the sticks hitting the puck and skates carving into the ice could be heard. This year, Children of Yost is back.
For many, like LSA senior Jon Hoffman, Children of Yost is an outlet to be expressive outside of the classroom.
“I’m pretty introverted within my classes,” Hoffman said. “It’s a good community of people and gives you the opportunity to be rowdy.”
His freshman year, Hoffman started like most newcomers: sitting in the back, learning the chants and taking in the atmosphere. Coming into his sophomore year, he found his role and started sitting behind the opposing team’s bench.
“They gave me a whiteboard because people thought what I was saying was funny,” Hoffman said. “I try my best to be creative with integrating chirps to the opposing team. … We try to be a form of entertainment for people watching.”
Children of Yost has come out in droves this year, recording over 5,000 fans in both games against Lake Superior State two weeks ago. But it wasn’t always like this.
Unlike the crowds of today, few fans showed up for home games at the team’s inception. It wasn’t until a 1977 NCAA third-round game against Cornell University that Yost’s fan base erupted. The Wolverines beat the Big Red, and the fans now had a winning team to root for.
Now incoming freshman recruits come to Michigan expecting a vibrant atmosphere every Friday and Saturday night.
“Scoring goals, you can see how excited our whole team gets and how crazy the Children of Yost are,” senior forward Jimmy Lambert said. “Every game that we get to play at Yost is a privilege and an honor.”
The team uses it to their advantage, going 2-0-0 at home so far this season. As Big Ten play approaches, the rocking Yost crowd will continue to give the Wolverines an edge over any opponent.
“They’re important for our program,” Michigan coach Mel Pearson said. “It gives you an extra step in your stride, an extra adrenaline to play. Without having it you really appreciate this year seeing them back.”
The best is yet to come from Children of Yost this season. After all, we’re talking about a fan base that threw traffic cones onto the ice after then-freshman forward Nick Granowicz scored a hat trick. A fan base that taunts the opposing goaltender with junk food. A fan base that chirps the away team’s parent section. For the mischievous and X-rated shenanigans Children of Yost participates in, it’s all done to create one of the wildest fan experiences in college sports.
Although they shout oddly specific and sometimes downright vile chants, Yost Arena wouldn’t be the same without them. With Michigan boasting one of the most talented rosters in college hockey history, a lot could be in store for this team and its storied student section.