Conflicting practice schedules of Powderpuff and fall sports prove challenging for some


Juniors Maya Shaughnessy and Juliette Estime practice defense drills during Powderpuff practice at Cypress field.

Haley Bayne, Co-editor-in-chief

Powderpuff is the traditional juniors versus seniors flag football game on Nov. 23 and practices begin in the weeks leading up to this major sporting event. But, what if Powderpuff athletes have other sports commitments that conflict with this timeline?

Many Powderpuff players are student-athletes who participate in fall sports. For some student-athletes, especially those participating on teams who have made the playoffs, sports and Powderpuff practice schedules overlap. This can make for some challenging decisions.

Senior Emily Ribatt plans to play in the Powderpuff game. But being on girls varsity soccer, a team who made it to the Eastern Mass North Division Playoffs created some conflicts for Ribatt as a Powderpuff athlete.

“The biggest conflict is not the timing,” Ribatt said, “it is whether or not if it is appropriate for me to go to Powderpuff practices, given that I am already on another team. If I were to roll my ankle during a Powderpuff practice, it would be so bad for me and also for the team dynamic.”

Social studies teacher Robert Grant, who is also the head coach of the senior Powderpuff team, said that in order to limit risks to fall student-athletes, practices begin as close to the game as possible. He believes that this will not be a problem for the experienced seniors.

“We’re very weary of having athletes practice with us because say you sprain an ankle before your big championship game. That would be very bad,” Grant said. “That’s why we’re backing the practices up until the last week before the game. We’re lucky that we have seniors because a lot of the girls also played last year, which means that a lot of the coaching does not need to be repeated.”

According to Ribatt, the girls soccer team all agreed that they would not begin practicing for Powderpuff until their season ran its course, proving their commitment to the team.

“As captains, we basically set a goal for ourselves and our teammates before the season started that no matter how far we go in playoffs and no matter what our chances of winning are, we will not go to Powderpuff practice,” Ribatt said. “We thought of it as if you cannot be completely committed to soccer if you are also taking time out of your day, your weekends, and time away from doing homework to go to Powderpuff practices.”

However, Ribatt said that due to recently coming off of an extensive soccer season, she will be fit and may consequently receive more playing time than other girls on the Powderpuff team.

“I will be in shape because of soccer season and advantages will come from that and create a difficult dynamic on the Powderpuff team,” Ribatt said. “The amount of work you put in at Powderpuff practices does not carry over to the amount of playing time you get.”

History teacher and assistant Powderpuff coach to the senior girls Scott Barkett said that the way the senior team is set up this year is to simply play the best players, while being courteous to all members of the Powderpuff squad.

“We want to win,” Barkett said. “So, the approach we’re taking is not necessarily going to be play everyone. If someone is going to miss a few practices because they’re playing another sport, but then they come in the last few practices and they’re really talented, it is what it is. We want our best athletes to play in the game. At the same time, we want to respect those who are able to learn what we’re doing and make it to practices.”

Junior Emily Gerson, who is on the cheerleading team, said that her cheer practices have taken precedence over Powderpuff practices.

“Our cheer coach had a talk with us and told us that we’re cheerleaders before Powderpuff players and we should probably prioritize our cheer practice,”  Gerson said. “I think that having cheer as my main priority makes sense, especially since there are so many girls doing Powderpuff, so some probably won’t even play. So, that is what I’m doing, which is why I have left early from my Powderpuff practices so I could make it to cheer, which starts at 4 p.m. after school on some days.”

According to Gerson, there is no perfect time to hold practices for Powderpuff.

“Evenings, like after other sports practices, people need to do homework and other stuff and some people have sports practices on weekends, too,” Gerson said.

Junior Mary Corcoran, who is on the cross country team, which held practices that conflicted with Powderpuff practices, said that she can imagine that there will be some problems because of the short amount of time between when the junior girls begin to practice for Powderpuff and the game itself.

“I feel like it might be hard to start later in the season, especially since none of us have played football before,” Corcoran said. “It might be hard to get caught up. But, because there are so many athletes who are going to be coming in around the same time, I think it will be okay.”

Junior Megha Shrivastava is on the fall crew team at Riverside Boat Club and has experienced some overlap between her crew season and that of Powderpuff.

“For example, this weekend I have crew practice at 11 a.m. and Powderpuff practice at 2:30 p.m. at Cypress Field,” Shrivastava said. “So, I have to rush from one practice to another. It’s very hard because if you don’t show up to at least one practice a week, you won’t have the opportunity to play in the game.”

Shrivastava said that the choice between attending crew practice or Powderpuff practice is a difficult one to make.

“I just hope it won’t come to me missing crew practice to play,” Shrivastava said. “It’s such a hard choice because obviously I don’t want to miss crew practice, but I also don’t want to miss out on the experience of playing in Powderpuff. But, I don’t think I would skip out on crew practice, to be honest, because crew is my sport.”

Barkett said that he understands and encourages athletes to prioritize their fall sports playoffs over the game of Powderpuff.

“The student-athletes have obviously made a commitment to their squads. I coach soccer in Cambridge with the boys varsity. Certainly if there were an equivalent situation and we were making the playoffs, the last thing I would want them thinking about is a flag football game,” Barkett said. “They put in so much work to their programs, so they should focus on that. You can’t do everything. The worst thing is that they won’t be able to play in Powderpuff but they can come cheer on their classmates.”