The Patriot In-Depth: Powder Puff provokes class pride
The sky goes black, the lights flash on. The juniors are lining up their defense in an attempt to stop the seniors from getting a touchdown. As soon as the football is in the hands of the quarterback, senior Hannah Griffith is off to sack her.
As this year’s powder puff game draws near, Griffith as well as students from the junior and senior classes are ready to play against each other in a rivalry that has been going on for over 45 years: juniors versus seniors.
Powder puff football is a Spirit Week activity where the female upperclassmen have an opportunity to play flag football. Although it is a rivalry between the classes, it is also a chance to support their classes. But in the end, the point is to unite both classes in their participation in a JC tradition, according to Athletic Director Larry Dukes.
“Being part of powder puff last year was a blast because it’s been a tradition that has been going on for so long, and I had been looking forward to it since freshman year. I liked how it was taken semi-seriously and we had practices, but we were still able to have fun. After all, it was supposed to unite our classes in a fun way,” senior Hannah Griffith said.
But powder puff has not always been the way it is this year. Every year up to last, fall athletes were not able to play in the game, but they decided to give the athletes a chance to be part of powder puff last year, and that has continued to this year. Last year’s game was also at night under the lights. However, it is going back to the old tradition of having the game after school this year.
“Last year it was a night game, and as soon as they took it to the night, it took on an aura of a more serious athletic event and guys did not want to act like jerks. It was a different kind of audience when the venue was changed to the evening,“ English teacher Dick Paaby said.
According to health teacher Tess Gauthier, powder puff was not that big of a deal when she went here. Gauthier was a member of JC’s fourth graduating class, so the powder puff tradition was just beginning to start.
“To the girls that were able to play, it seemed like it was the most important part of their junior and senior years. To me, I was disappointed that I couldn’t play since I was an athlete, but it was not as big of a deal as it is now,” Gauthier said.
One aspect of the games that has changed over the years was the male cheerleaders. In the past, there were male cheerleaders from the junior and senior class to support their grade.
“The male cheerleaders began to be a little offensive to some people,” chemistry teacher Shane Lawler said.
“The guys used to go out and dress as cheerleaders and go do stupid stuff that was actually demeaning as I’m concerned, and most faculty members thought it was demeaning to the girls, cheerleaders especially, but girls in general,” Paaby said.
Paaby, who has been teaching here for 37 years, said that powder puff has been taken more seriously now than it had been in the past.
“In the last few years, the idea of the play has gotten more serious. More and more girls are coming out to play because they want to play football and they feel they are given a better look by the audience as female football players. Whereas even 10 years ago, the powder puff was viewed more as a contest of classes and was viewed as beating the class not playing good football,” Paaby said.
According to Paaby, past powder puff games “were more about knocking the other team down and tackling although prohibited. It was more of a physical confrontation. Who could be bigger and better and triumph over the other team. Now, I think, they are just trying to compete on the level of just playing good football, making their plays work, and show that they are accomplishing something.”
“Powder puff really brings everyone closer together as a class. I feel a lot closer with my classmates, as well as the seniors of last year, because we did this together even though we were playing against each other. It was definitely a rivalry, but it united us and broadened my horizon of friends,” senior Olivia DiFonso said.
Although the senior class played together last year and therefore have experience playing together, juniors are mentally preparing themselves for the game.
“I am stoked to represent my class in such a fun, competitive way. I think it is pretty cool that we are still following the powder puff tradition after all of these years,” junior Kelly Stifler said.
“It’s about the girls playing the best football that they can, getting a good workout and showing their football smarts. It’s not about trashing the other class,” Paaby said.
Meredith Haggerty is an In-Depth Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.