Freshletes’ insight to inclusivity in sports.

Sports teams are a huge part of Garfield. They unify us as a school and give us something we can all take pride in, students and athletes alike. But behind the trophies, cheering crowds, and matching uniforms, what are the teams really like?
In the past, some Garfield teams have had issues with being too cliquey and not inclusive enough. For many teams, it depends on who you ask. It’s interesting to look at what it’s like to be on the team as a freshman–athletes who are new to the school and sometimes the sport. Being the youngest on the team can feel intimidating, but joining a sport can be one of the best ways to find a family at Garfield. Having teammates who support you in and out of practice is a great way for many younger athletes to feel welcomed and valued at the school, as well as having the opportunity to train and race at a higher level.
Here are two freshletes’ perspectives on how their sports have impacted their time at Garfield so far.
Wren McIntosh (Cross Country)
McIntosh first joined cross country this summer when she started coming to captains’ practices in mid-July, a few weeks after they started. At that point she was one of the only freshmen at practices, with the majority of runners there being more senior members of the team who were returning for their second or third season. Despite that, she instantly clicked with the team, and continued to regularly attend practices throughout the summer. “The upperclassmen definitely help you feel welcome,” she said. According to McIntosh, the team feels very united across all the grades–“it’s not like it’s an exclusive group…it’s all one big thing.” McIntosh said especially at the beginning of the summer, the daily icebreakers and running with different groups of teammates made it feel very inclusive right from the start. In addition to cross country, McIntosh does basketball, boxing, and mountain biking. She explained that these sports differ from XC because “the others are very much skill-based…and cross country is not only skill-based, it’s also strategy-based…it’s a team sport and an individual sport at the same time.” McIntosh said there are lots of different levels of competitiveness on the team, and that even among the varsity team, it doesn’t feel completely minded towards competition.

Salem Bill (Swim team)
Bill joined the Garfield swim team this fall, but before that he had been swimming on recreational teams since he was seven. He’s enjoyed the team so far, and said “everyone’s really nice and helpful if [he has] any questions.” One team tradition that’s stood out so far is the beginning-of-year get together. According to Bill, Garfield swim has differed from the recreational team he swam with before high school in that “there’s more of a bond because…everyone goes to the same school.” Bill said the lack of competitiveness at this point in the season makes it easier to feel encouraged and bond with his teammates. Overall, he said the team is “not super competitive…but it’s more just supporting each other.”