Sophomores Andrew Seliskar and Luke Thorsell walk into room 147 and head over to two tables piled high with an assortment of bagels and cream cheese containers. As they munch on the bagels and chat with their teammates, they receive curious glances from people who pass by, eyeing their bandaged wounds, broken limbs and black eyes.
Jefferson Swim and Dive team has a long-standing tradition of having outrageous spirit days, including “Pink and Sparkly Day” and “Captain’s Surprise Day.” In addition to dressing up in crazy costumes and outfits, team members receive bagels every meet day and participate in secret pals, for which members are assigned a teammate at the beginning of the season to give gifts to. After meets, the team members enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
“TJSD has some of the most outgoing and hilarious people at TJ, and they really go all out for these spirit days,” Seliskar said. “Our captains have done a really fantastic job setting the bar, and we normally have almost all members dress up for our spirit days, and it’s really what makes TJSD a ‘family.’”
Other sports at Jefferson also have traditions on days they have meets or games.
“One of my favorite spirit days that the Winter Track boys’ team does is Ties and Thighs on the day of our District Championships. All the guys wear dress shirts, ties, and running shorts,” senior Kyler Blodgett said. “Walking around the halls, it’s pretty clear who is on track, and everyone has fun doing it.”
Winter Track is starting a new tradition this year to encourage underclassmen and upperclassmen to get to know each better this year. Many members of the girls’ team have been planning a Sadie Hawkins activity to bring everyone on the team together.
“Our team is divided into guys and girls and short and long distance, so we wanted to do some bonding that mixes things up and includes everyone,” junior Carrie Murton said. “All the girls are really excited to get our ‘ask’ on and I’ve heard some great plans to do it so far.”
Although some sports do not participate in spirit days or yearly traditions, they do make an effort to reinforce team spirit in their own way.
All levels of the boys’ basketball team are required to wear formal shoes, shirt and a tie on the days they have a game or scrimmage.
“Not everyone likes it, but I enjoy dressing up. It makes me feel extra sharp for game day,” sophomore David Noursi said. “You could say that it helps contribute to team unity, and it also means that everyone in the school can tell who is on the team and who has a game that day.”
The wrestling team does not have designated spirit days, although some members wear their spirit clothes on match days and indulge in snacking with friends.
“A couple of people bring cinnamon swirl bread to meets, and a few people wear moccasins to meets,” senior Giovani Basurto said. “On match days, people wear their warm-up jackets to school.”
Team bonding doesn’t just stop on days when athletes compete, however. Several sports at Jefferson hold team-wide activities throughout or after the season.
“TJSD plays a team-wide game of assassins, and we also have a team sleepover at the end of the season,” Swim and Dive captain, senior Aileen Huang, said. “These traditions are definitely why our team is so close and they let people on the team get to know upper and underclassmen they might not have talked to before.”
The girls’ basketball team holds their annual lock-in after winter break at school for athletes to spend more time with each other and get to know each other better off the court.
“Lock-in is a really great opportunity to get to know the players from all three levels even better,” junior Carolyn Ours said. “It’s great to be able to hang out when we’re being relaxed and not totally competitive and focused.”
Despite not being in the competitive season, athletes participating in winter crew training also have their own workout traditions.
“We always have a ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ workout a few days before winter break, and each class gets to choose a workout on designated days throughout the winter,” senior captain Emily Bartlett said.
Crew athletes also organize activities outside of training to bond as a team.
“We go out to dinner every Friday to eat and rotate around different restaurants and food places near TJ,” senior James Bollinger said.
Spirit days, team dinners and other team-wide activities and traditions have fostered a sense of community and family for athletes involved in sports at Jefferson.
“It feels good to tell people you’re part of the team when people ask you on a spirit day,” freshman basketball player Angela Goyal said. “It helps us feel connected.”
(This article originally appeared in the January 25, 2013 print edition.)