By Dharma Bartram
Powderpuff is a Novato High School tradition that reverses gender roles by allowing girls to play football and boys to cheerlead for one night. Every year, for one night only, the stands are full of ecstatic students and excited community members.
Last Friday night, the junior and senior girls clashed in an exciting game under the lights on the football field, despite pouring rain and cold conditions. The game was very competitive and went into overtime, ultimately resulting in a 6-6 tie.
Both teams brought something to the table. Senior running back Kaziah Watson and junior running back Vanessa Torres dashed past the opposing team’s aggressive defense. Junior wide receiver Jamie Level and Senior running back McKenzie Mock each earned their team a touchdown. Junior quarterback Katy McGrath also had a great performance not only handing the ball off and passing to other teammates, but also running it herself and risking getting sacked by the senior’s intimidating defense.
“I am super excited to participate in powderpuff this year,” said junior Marissa Raras prior to the game. “Ever since I was in elementary school I remember going to the powderpuff games each year, as my brother was a football player and coached both his junior and senior year. I remember sitting there thinking about all of the girls in my class and who would play what position, or how well we would play as a team.”
“I loved playing powderpuff last year,” said senior Sarah Bailey prior to the game. “It's fun to bond with a group of hard working girls on a sport that's great to play. A lot of energy, sweat, and blood goes into it, so the final game is literally so much fun to play.”
Powderpuff not only brings the players together, but also the student body and the community.
“I think any event that gets the school together and gets people cheering and acting like a team is a good event whether it's powderpuff or anything else,” said AP U.S. History teacher Tom Mahoney. “It’s unity. It’s community, and that’s what makes things fun. I love the display of team and support that powderpuff shows.”
Bonding and hard work are not the only benefits of playing powderpuff. The girls are also able to appreciate and learn how to play a different sport.
“I think one of the things that's really cool is watching the athletes train,” said AP Euro teacher and varsity football coach Jason Searle. “The football guys teach the girls about football and (help them with) learning plays. I think it’s also enjoyable for the girls because they’re able to appreciate football a little more and they look forward to doing it the next year.”
Searle has been officiating powderpuff games for about 10 years and was even a referee in his senior year of high school. However, he doesn’t exactly enjoy it.
“I don’t mind doing it because I do know a lot of the students and that helps,” Searle said. “I think making sure that no one gets too crazy on the field, but at the same time it’s difficult… when everyone knows you. Everyone sees you the next day at school. You don’t really wanna get it wrong so you know that everyone’s hot and high-tempered, and want to make sure that they win because they’re competitive. Ref’s kind of a no-win situation.”
Senior coach and varsity football player Sergio Melendez said, “I could not be any more proud of all of their efforts during the game. We had to put people in positions they didn't know so I'm pretty happy with the fact that they were able to learn on their feet. As for the outcome, we knew the juniors had a ton of athleticism on their team so the fact that we were able to hold them down and retaliate at times made me indescribably proud.”
“It was a super cool experience that I definitely won't forget. I've been looking forward to playing in the powder puff game since I was a little girl. It was unfortunate that it was a tie, I think if we had another shot we could have scored,” said Junior running back Vanessa Torres.
Varsity football kicker and ASB Hive leader Marcello Cattaneo helped coach the juniors, and enjoyed the experience.
“The coaching experience was very fun and it gave me a chance to see a part of the girls that I had never seen before,” said Cattaneo. “I'm very proud of the girls for the hard work they showed in the game. I don't think the outcome shows how hard they worked for this as I feel no game should end in a tie.”
The girls worked incredibly hard and put on a show for the Novato community.