CONNECTING OFF THE COURT

PHS athletic teams grow closer outside of their sport
The PHS cheer team enjoys their Christmas party earlier this month.
The PHS cheer team enjoys their Christmas party earlier this month.
Nyah Johnson

The strongest teams work well together, on and off the field. How do athletic teams at PHS become closer with their teammates?

Team dinners are one of the most common forms of team get-togethers. They are usually held the night before a competition, and athletes get to relax and share a meal with their team. 

“At [cross country] team dinners, there was always good food, and I liked how we went to a bunch of different people’s houses,” freshman Ben Smith said. “It always felt like a safe space to kick back and have fun.”

In addition to team dinners, the PHS cheer team has enjoyed having get togethers and parties. This year, they hosted a friends-giving during Thanksgiving and a Christmas party with a gift exchange. 

“During practice, we’re so into what we’re doing that we get frustrated and start hating each other,” senior Kora Terry said. “It’s good to get out of practice, and then we all like each other a little more.”

During practice, we’re so into what we’re doing that we get frustrated and start hating each other. It’s good to get out of practice, and then we all like each other a little more.

— senior Kora Terry

The PHS volleyball team also enjoyed getting out of the gym, and spending time together in a way that wasn’t practicing or competing. 

“For volleyball before regionals this year, [the varsity team] went up to one of our teammates’ cabins,” junior Alexa Richardson said. “We went on a hike and went down to the lake and had a picnic.”

The PHS football team has found more success on the field as they’ve focused on bonding off the field as well. Before each home game, they have a fire with a unique tradition where they pass around a shovel, and whoever has the shovel is allowed to speak. 

“We get stuff off our chests,” junior Trevon Abraham said. “Like if there was a big fight that week within the team, we use that to resolve our differences and then get closer as a team. Then we can focus on what we need to do better together.”

The night before the state race, the PHS cross country team decided to try a new pre-meet ritual to help them unite before the big day. Junior Kinley Cooley suggested they get together as a team for a “gratitude circle.” 

“[My sister and I] did it at our summer camp, and it was super motivating and moving with a group of kids we hardly knew,” Cooley said. “We thought that if we did it as a team before state, it might motivate us more and show what being part of a team was all about.”

The team went around in a circle and shared what they were grateful for, whether it was teammates, coaches, or other aspects of the sport. This helped the runners connect as they reflected on the highs and lows of their season.  

“I absolutely think it brought the team closer together,” senior Jon Hawley said. “I feel a lot of people felt insecure about starting on the team and then realized that they’re part of a family. That was certainly a good bonding exercise.” 

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