Elizabeth Khludenev, '23
Are you an NCS freshman on the fence about choosing your sport for the winter season? Maybe you’ve heard that swimmers’ hair turns to ice and cracks, or that crew condo’s roster goes from thirty to seven athletes in the first month. Perhaps you’ve wondered how pilates is considered a sport or what the squash team is like. Well, you are in luck. I’ve got the inside scoop on what our sports teams are really like straight from current athletes themselves. Compiled below is a list of NCS’s most popular winter sports that I have made in the hopes of giving underclassmen some insight on which winter sport they might want to sign up for this season.
Want to protect the nest? Basketball practices are daily and span two hours. Practices often include some form of conditioning such as running, sprinting, lifting, or agility. The rest of practice consists of passing and shooting drills as well as walkthroughs of plays. The team loves to play music as they practice and listens to everything from country to rap. Lindsay Weigmann ‘23 describes that since the basketball team “has less people on the court than other sports, we have a small team, so it allows everyone to become close and more easily trust and rely on teammates both on and off the court. It is a high energy sport and requires a lot of thinking when on the court because you have to be working through plays to get good shots off.” Despite basketball being known as a sport for tall athletes, Tabitha Chandler ’23 comments that “the team definitely does not follow that ideal this year,” herself being a mighty five feet and three inches.
Want to belly flop into the STA pool after a long hard day of tests? Swimmers have two options for practices: they can either go to morning practices (before school) on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays with after school practices on Wednesdays and Thursdays or vice versa. They also sometimes have practices on Saturdays. Practice itself consists mostly of the stroke freestyle since “that’s the most common stroke in meets,” comments Helen Yingling ’23. The lanes in the pool are grouped by speed and groups receive slightly different workouts depending on their level. The swim team has exciting traditions like the Blue-Gold meet, which is an intersquad meet right before Thanksgiving break organized by that year’s team captains. Yenna Chong ’23 comments that “other than the actual swimming, [she] loves drills that practice kicking because [she] can listen to music when her head is above the water.” To an underclassman, Chong would say that “swimming is such a fun way to get in really good workouts but also make cross-close friendships and it’s really a lot of fun.”
Indoor Climbing (Voyageur)
What other sport do you know that gets you to play bombardment and ultimate frisbee as cardio? Climbing meets daily for two hours and at various gyms in the DC area on Tuesdays. Practices usually consist of climbing the tower in the Athletic Center (AC) and working on specific routes (meaning only using holds of a specific color) to build technique and, sometimes, simply repeating the same route multiple times to build endurance. The team also gets to use the jungle gym which hangs from the ceiling in the AC and consists of rope ladders and rope climbs. Occasionally, the team does a “5,000 foot Friday” where the whole team works together to climb a total of 5,000 vertical feet on the climbing wall. Maddie Murnick ’22 comments that she thinks “the voyageur team becomes uniquely close because we all literally hold each other’s lives in our hands belaying one another.” Theo Barassi ’22 adds that she would “encourage underclassmen to give it a try, it’s a good mix of working out and fun, and we should take advantage of the fact that we have a rock wall.”
With courts situated smack dab in the middle of a full restaurant service, the squash team may as well be ordering appetizers between swings. The JV team practices four times a week while Varsity does five. After school, the team takes a bus down to the “Squash on Fire” courts and starts with basic stretches and drills. The team’s warm up rarely includes any running court sprints or difficult conditioning. Then, they split and spend ten minutes doing drills and getting feedback from coaches before going on to games. Jane Puryear ’23 says that “you don’t have to have played squash or be good at it to join.” She “joined squash freshman year with only taking a few lessons and did pretty well.” Audrey Scott ’23 comments on the team dynamic by saying that she has “really bonded with some seniors,” which she may not have done otherwise. The squash coach, Ronny, is well-known for his witty and sarcastic humor and outgoing personality. The team loves telling him about school drama and updating him on what’s happening in their lives.
Notorious for its exponential decrease in participants over the first couple weeks, crew conditioning is exactly what it sounds like–a season of working out and team bonding in preparation for the actual rowing season in the spring. The crew (pun intended) has practice five times a week, which will increase to six times after the winter break. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are dedicated to weight room workouts (cross training and lifting) and erg drills while the remaining Tuesdays and Thursdays are solely erg workouts. Caitlin Hollingshead ’23 says that “the team is very culture-based and focused on building relationships and trust, and we sometimes do reflections together after practice.” When asked what advice she would give to a freshman, Lauren Walker ’23 said, “I’d say that the sport is what you make it, you reap what you sow, but it’s a misconception that it’s unbearable.”
Maybe you’re interested in something more laid back and low commitment. Pilates meets twice a week in the room across from the weight room. It is focused on strengthening the core and maintaining balance in various positions. A large part of the practice focuses on mindfulness and, as Megan Chiang ’23 puts it, “being aware of the way the body moves.” It’s neither a fast nor an intense form of exercise and they mainly do stretches to build flexibility and low impact strength exercises. Sounds like a relaxing way to end the school day!
Perhaps you are looking for a sport that is more artistic. Dance team meets every day of the week but Friday in the studio located in the athletic center. The practices start with stretching and a core workout and then the team learns and practices choreography. Towards the end of the class, the team runs the whole dance as a class and sometimes in smaller groups. Katie Troup ’23 comments that “the dynamic is super fun, supportive, and a very welcoming environment. Since it is a small group, everyone bonds a lot and it’s a great way to make friends across different grade.” If you want to see them in action, you can watch the dance team during halftime of both NCS and STA basketball games!
Sports are an integral part of building cross-grade friendships in the NCS community. Whether it is on the court, in the pool, or in a studio, sports allow for a mental break, give students a time to forget about their academic responsibilities and to have fun with their classmates. I would advise anyone to try out a new sport that interests them and not be afraid to switch while there is still time to do so.