Boys’ and girls’ teams find unique ways to bond

The boys’ and girls’ lacrosse teams pose together for a team photo at the end of the 2012-2013 season.
The boys’ and girls’ lacrosse teams pose together for a team photo at the end of the 2012-2013 season.
Courtesy of Bernie Flather

Boys and girls at Palo Alto High School participate in a variety of sports, ranging from swimming to track to lacrosse; however, the general relationship between girls’ and boys’ teams are unknown to the Paly public.
Although none of the teams at Paly qualify for the term ‘co-ed’, many of these teams receive support and competition from the opposite gender teams.

Some sports have a tradition of annual games between the boys’ and girls’ teams, while others participate in meets together and cheer each other on. On the other hand, some sports rarely interact during practices and games.

Sports such as swimming and track share practice times, team bus rides, dinners and meets. But, they do not practice together: why is that?

“I think that as much support as we receive from the girls’ team during meets, at the end of the days the scores are separate and the teams aren’t grouped together on paper,” junior swimmer Winston Wang said. “We just happen to race at the same meets for convenience.”

Each team has separate standards even in the same sports as rules, times and equipment can vary. Points are scored separately for girls’ and boys’ teams, and playoffs are different depending on the gender.

Although boys and girls do not compete against each other, in many sports like swimming, cross country and track, each team supports one another.

In lacrosse and basketball, members of both teams say that they like to go see how the other team is doing and cheer them at games.

Having two different teams supporting each other while being at the same event has its perks: a larger crowd, boosted self-confidence and a greater support system.

“Although we don’t score together, we ride the bus together, have dinners together and the girls do a great job of supporting the guys when they are racing,” Wang said. “It definitely helps to see such a large group of people supporting you.”

Even when teams do not play at the same time, such as boys’ and girls’ lacrosse, many of the athletes say that they like to go watch and support the other team with a sense of pride for rivalry games.

“A lot of us would go to the guys games and a lot of [the guys will] come to ours,”  junior lacrosse player Allie Peery said. “Especially the big rivalry games like St. Francis.”

In addition to supporting each other, these single-sex teams in the same seasonal sports try to find time to spend with each other, with fun drills or simulated games.

The boys’ and girls’ bond by playing an annual game.

“[During the] boys versus girls game at the end of the season, guys wear skirts and we switch sticks for our annual game,” Peery said.

The water polo teams hold an annual event involving inner tubes and games.

“Every year we play a game involving tubes and other water materials between the guys and girls to kind of bond us together,” junior water polo player Tess van Hulsen said.

The water polo teams also try to create a stronger bond with an “Italian evening on the pool deck.”

“[Bonding with the boys’ team is] pretty fun,” junior water polo player Sheila Subramanian said. “We all sit together and try to get to know each other.”

Boys’ and girls’ teams at Paly offer support at events rather than fierce competition and rivalry. Fellow athletes’ attendance at games also increases team morale.

Having athletes of the opposite sex is like having additional fans on the field for events, and not only further represents your school, but also your sport.

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