Winning streak increases WCHS spirit and unity


Photo by Rachel Mattison

WCHS’ recent sports success has filled the trophy case of the school where the accomplishments of WCHS athletics are on display. Awards range from State championship plaques to individual player awards.

By Rachel Mattison, Online Editor-in-Chief

WCHS has long been known for strong academics proven by its many accolades over the years such as being a National Blue Ribbon School and ranked as the best high school in Maryland based on academic performance. Recently, WCHS has been receiving recognition not only as a smart school but an athletic one. The past few years have been a transition from being an overlooked opponent on a team’s schedule to being one that they know will give them a fight – not just in a few sports, but in all of them.

The rise in athletic success has not caused the academic priorities of WCHSto dwindle. Students still care about their work but they are also now surrounded by an exciting sports community. The energy in the building and opportunity for students to either participate in or attend games enhances the culture of WCHS. Having an outlet for fun and exercise helps unite the school and relieve some of the academic pressure that comes with attending a nationally ranked school.

“Sports can unite our school through their excitement and success,” WCHS athletic director Jesse Smith said. “When our teams are doing well, there is more excitement and positivity in our hallways. In addition to the culture of the school they improve the players as people. Sports teaches us how to work toward a common goal, overcome adversity and accept others regardless of differences.”

While sports have always been available at WCHS, their recent success has prompted more interest in them and turned them into a social opportunity. Previously games did not draw large crowds; no sports culture meant those community uniting aspects were not in play.

“Sports are pretty huge in current social culture, and having good teams gets students excited to go see wins,” WCHS senior and volleyball player Kaki Hubeny said. “A lot of people go and dress up, cheer and hang out. It is a break from all the hard work we do and makes the school community more positive. For example the Wootton football game is something that gets everyone pumped all week and then everyone dresses in black to go watch us win.”

This past fall teams went a combined 115-24-6 without one team having a losing record. Success like that is going to naturally generate enthusiasm and attendance. However, WCHS has not always had athletic records like that, they used to only be consistently strong in golf, lacrosse and field hockey.

“I think recently the commitment level of our athletes has been upped which has clearly led to results,” Smith said. “When I got here there were plenty of dedicated athletes but overall it was something to put on a college application. As the number of committed athletes grows so does success and those things have in return bred that hunger for more and more success. Athletes are making this commitment because they’ve realized they can excel in athletics and academics, the dedicated coaches we have and the improvements we are putting into the athletics program from improved training equipment to the best facilities.”

In addition to the level of athlete commitment increasing over the past few years, so has community commitment. 

“When I arrived seven years ago sports were on the back burner,” Smith said. “As time has gone on we’ve developed outstanding engagement. The last two years we have had record numbers of ticket sales, fundraising and overall support from everyone.”

Community support shows that everyone is behind the athletes and wants them to succeed. This encouragement that athletics should be an important part of WCHS goes a long way in changing the past culture of what WCHS was. Known locally as a “W school” a term referencing that being a down-county school with a high level of academics and income, WCHS has always had a very serious, cutthroat environment. But now, sports are helping to build a more positive community with teachers wishing students good luck and students going to cheer for their friends. And the sports teams themselves help other teams do better.

“One team’s success absolutely contributes to the success of another,” Smith said. “Athletes are competitive and if they see one team succeeding, they want their team to succeed as well and get that same attention. We also have lots of our kids play multiple sports and they bring that winning mentality they have on one team to their next team.”

This perspective from Smith is reflected in the mindset of players as they go from season to season.

“In the spring we won the lacrosse state championship and then the next season a lot of the same guys were on the football team together,” WCHS senior and football and lacrosse player Griffin Clarke said. “We brought an expectation of success into football season and a mindset that we could be the best and those two things were infectious ultimately leading to a long run for us.”

That lacrosse state championship win, even though the team has consistently been great, not only contributed to future teams’ success but also meant a lot to the team itself.

“We’ve come so close to winning it all a bunch of times, and it felt great to finally do it,” Clarke said. “It means a lot to win to our former players, community and Montgomery County. But most importantly it meant a lot to WCHS, demonstrated by the large crowd of fans who drove over an hour. I was glad that we put in the work to do so well because the school community clearly cared a lot about it.”

WCHS athletics has achieved well-rounded high performance. The championships and winning records are reflective of years of steady incline. While WCHS may have been seen as a school with teams to brush over, they are now seen as a sports powerhouse. 16 division championships, ten county, 13 region and two state titles in the past year and a half speak for themself.