The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

Slam dunking into the evolution of high school sports

Photo by Ikechukwu Amadi-Davis
In the front left of the photo, WCHS teacher, coach and alumnus, Ikechukwu Amadi-Davis, stands in the front left corner and played varsity football on the ‘Friday Night Lights’ field 10 years ago. Around him, the crowd is dressed up in blackout outfits to fit the game theme.

Flashback to 15 years ago when high school sports were much more quaint: smaller bleachers, less media buzz and less spectatorship. Today, the sports have remained the same while the conditions are the complete opposite: larger bleachers, huge media buzz and lots of spectatorship. WCHS’ current teachers and alumni, Geniueve Bouquet and Ikechukwu Amadi-Davis, as well as sophomore Sydney Langer, touch on the differences and similarities between what WCHS sports used to be like and what they are to this day.  

“I think the current teams are very inclusive and exciting,” Langer said. “Everyone is very positive, and the overall spirit of the team is really carried through in team spirit days and energy.” 

Sports teams are notorious for doing themed days, in which the team will dress up in a certain theme for the school day. Many teams also gift secret buddy bags, where each athlete will secretly give another teammate a goodie bag filled with their favorite snacks; but this was only sometimes the case.

“I don’t think [team spirit] was as widespread when I was a student as [it is] now,” Bouquet said.  “But when I’m teaching, I can tell who’s on a sports team.”

Story continues below advertisement

In the past, individual team spirit was not as established as it is today, nor was school spirit. Though themed games were present for the major sports such as football and boys’ basketball, the girls’ sports got the short end of the stick. 

“I have noticed that there are a lot more spectators around now, especially for the girls’ sports,” Bouquet said. “Sometimes they had [themed games] but it is definitely much more robust now than it was back then.”

Apart from spirit, a key difference between school sports today and 15 years ago is the resources available to student-athletes. 

“We did have the privilege of having an athletic trainer, although in a different capacity than now,” Amadi-Davis said. “There was someone, but they only spent some time here; they had to cover more than one school.”

Today, all 25 high schools in MCPS have an athletic trainer available to student-athletes per the MCPS and the MedStar Health partnership, which is a considerable step in injury prevention, especially when the student-athletes are constantly playing with limited breaks. 

“My games are generally every other day, typically Mondays and Wednesdays,” Langer said. “We usually have at least two games a week once the season starts.”

To accommodate for such fast-paced seasons, teams have daily practices with minimal days off. In the past, WCHS sports teams had to follow similar schedules as teams follow today to fulfill their season. 

“[For football] on JV, we played on Saturday mornings or Thursday nights,” Amadi-Davis said. “And on varsity, we played on Friday nights.”

The term “Friday Night Lights” refers to the varsity football game played on Friday nights and has been used since the 90’s. Football games have always had huge impacts on the WCHS culture, making it the social event students look forward to every week. 

“When we had a pretty good team, we often had sell-out games,” Amadi-Davis said. “We had spirit themes, [which were] the usual white-out/blackout or beach-themed days.”

The football traditions of WCHS have remained alive throughout the years. Today, students still dress in their themed outfits and line up at the entryway, anticipating the fun social atmosphere. 

“I think a lot of different types of sports are celebrated and recognized more, it’s not just football and the boys’ basketball team- there’s more variety,” Bouquet said. “This includes having more school spirit days, and for those other teams, more acknowledgment of what those athletes put into their sport.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Observer Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *