Powderpuff participation, school spirit extremely strong back in the ‘90s

March 24, 2017 — by Esha Lakhotia and Ami Nachiappan

School spirit extremely strong decades ago.

Twenty years ago this month, hundreds of students decked out in class colors waved colored pom-poms and cheered their fellow classmates on as they participated in games like Powderpuff football to win points for their respective class.

Back then, Spring Fling was a school-wide event that brought everyone together and was more similar in spirit to Homecoming.

“The night rally was extremely competitive and the whole school came out to support each other,” said assistant principal Kerry Mohnike, then an English teacher.

Powderpuff has been an integral part of the school’s culture for as long as Mohnike can remember. Though she doesn’t know the exact year Powderpuff and Spring Fling were implemented, Mohnike said they predate her arrival at the school in 1991.

While Powderpuff games are now traditionally played for fun, the games used to be even more competitive and physical. Attendance secretary Mandy Armes, who participated in Powderpuff when she attended the school in the ‘90s, distinctly remembers girls who had their shirts ripped off while others’ contact lenses fell out when they banged their heads. One girl even broke her collarbone.

Because of the physicality of the games, the administration issued guidelines to to protect the players.

“Now, the administration wants to help the athletes not get themselves injured while playing the game,” Mohnike said. “I think the female athletes are super competitive and the level of competition is more professional now than it was back in the day.”

Both Mohnike and Armes recall huge attendances during the Powderpuff lunchtime games, which took place on the upper field.

School spirit played a key role in attendance as hundreds of students dressed in their class colors and gathered around the field to cheer on their classmates. In fact, the final Powderpuff game was played on a Thursday night, and the atmosphere was similar to ones of current home football games.

Nowadays, the games are not as well attended, and bleachers are mostly empty.

In 2001, Armes’ senior year, almost all boys who were not coaching the girl athletes participated in the cheerleading routine. They wore complete cheerleading attire and had full-fledged routines, including various stunts and pyramids. Rather than performing solely at the Spring Fling rally like nowadays, the boys cheered at all the Powderpuff games during lunch.

According to Armes, male participation, which has “spiraled off” since she attended high school, is one of the biggest differences she has noticed through her time at the school.

“I think the boy participation was much higher back in the day since back then; guys actually wanted to be cheerleaders,” Armes said. “It was really fun to have that kind of school spirit throughout the week.”

Seniors have also noticed differences in Spring Fling week from when they were freshmen.

“I definitely see school spirit going down especially when it comes to Spring Fling,” senior powderpuff player Julia Vita said. “When I was a freshman, we saw the upperclassmen getting excited and participating so I think that really encouraged all of us underclassmen to participate and dress up as well.”

Vita hopes in the future that the large freshman class will reverse the downward trend, and that the whole school will get more involved and show more spirit.

“Spring Fling week is so fun and I hope that people see that as well,” Vita said. “It's fun to either play in the games or watch, so you don't even need to be on the team to support your grade.”

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