Wednesday, February 12, 2020
School updates policy on team spirit days Reese Wang Design Editor
In past years, the girls’ swim team held its annual suits and spandex spirit day before its meet against Central League rival Radnor, attending class while wearing leggings with their swimsuits over top. “It was a funny (spirit day) that we always did, and it promoted a lot of team bonding because we’re all walking around in our bathing suits,” senior and girls swimming captain Jamie Semmer said. However, spirit days such as wearing suits and spandex were banned shortly after the beginning of the winter sports season. In an announcement sent to coaches through email and posted on Schoology, athletic director Kevin Pechin stated that teams may only wear team jerseys and business casual attire for spirit days with no themes or props, explaining in the email that “our theme is Conestoga.” According to Pechin, the change occurred as a result of a concern about the attire worn in class brought up by a teacher at a faculty meeting. “We support the spirit days, and if they want to wear their jerseys, that’s fine,” Pechin said, “but it shouldn’t take away from the educational setting.”
When senior and boys basketball captain Connor Steele was told of the change at a captains’ meeting with Pechin, he didn’t think that his team’s usual spirit days of whiteout and jersey day would be affected by the change. As a result of the change, Steele noted that he would think twice before doing anything risky. However, boys swim captain Miles Whitaker realized that the change would affect team bonding. The team’s popular lazy weatherman spirit day, wearing formalwear on top with sweatpants, was initially axed due to the change before being brought back upon further review from Pechin. “We’re not like the other teams because we can’t wear our jerseys, and we use the other (spirit days) like lazy weatherman day or beach day to make up for that fact,” Whitaker said. Junior Ava Collin remembers when Pechin notified the rest of the swim team through a Schoology post. The swimmers’ GroupMe chat exploded with messages, ironically encouraging team bonding as the swimmers conspired to get around the new rules. “We were like, ‘What happened to our spirit days? We all hate these new rules,’” Collin said. “(The change) forced us all to plot with each other. We were all like, ‘Oh, if we can’t get our spirit days back, we’re gonna dye the tips of our hair red.”
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Beach Day!: The girls’ swim and dive team wear beach attire for a beach themed spirit day, which will no longer be allowed under updated policy. In the future, propless spirit days such as U.S.A. Day or color spirit days will be allowed. Whitaker, Semmer and their fellow swim captains decided to meet with Pechin to understand why the spirit days were taken away and to negotiate a deal for the swim team. “Going into the meeting, we just wanted to make the point that we don’t have a
uniform to wear and (that) we don’t practice together. This is one of the biggest team bonding things that we do, and we’re not breaking the dress code. It’s not really fair to just say that because you’re a team, you can’t wear any of this,” Semmer said.
After several meetings with Pechin, the two sides reached an agreement. All teams are now allowed to participate in non-themed and propless spirit days, such as U.S.A. day, twin day, and color spirit days such as whiteout and blackout.
Although Semmer wishes that the team could have gotten back more spirit days, she understands that certain spirit days such as suits and spandex could be seen as inappropriate for school and is grateful that Pechin agreed to work with the captains to reach a middle ground.
Pechin is also grateful for the opportunity to work with the swimmers. “We’re here to learn first and foremost, and if something’s becoming a distraction from someone learning and we can we can help with that and still support our teams, I’m all for it,” Pechin said.
Honoring aa legend: legend: Community Community remembers remembers Kobe Kobe BryanT BryanT Honoring by ananya kulkarni and gavin merschel designed by ananya kulkarni, Audrey Kim On his way to his daughter’s game, basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant fell victim to a tragic helicopter accident that took their lives and the lives of seven others on board Jan. 26. The accident came as a shock to not only the basketball community but the entire nation. While Bryant will forever be known for his incomparable success in the world of basketball. Bryant was more than a basketball player- he was also a father, a writer, philanthropist and businessman, succeeding in all his endeavors both on and off the court. As an alumnus of Lower Merion High School, Bryant’s death had a great impact on the local community. Upon receiving the news of his passing, hundreds of students added to a memorial outside of the school, attracting fans from everywhere to pay their respects. The high school also held a 33-second moment of silence to honor Bryant. While Bryant is known for his time with the Lakers, his first victories came from his time playing at Lower Merion High School. Bryant led the Lower Merion Aces to the first State Championship in 50 years as a senior in 1996, ending the season with a record of 31-3. His success on and off the court built the “Mamba Mentality” that Bryant will be known for going forward. The Los Angeles Lakers drafted Bryant as the 13th overall pick in the 1996 NBA draft directly out of high school. Conestoga Class of ’97 alumnus Dante Coles played against Bryant and the Lower Merion Aces during his sophomore and junior year. Coles remembers stepping up to the challenge of playing against the best player in Pennsylvania. “Instead of backing off that challenge, I wanted to go right at Kobe’s neck. I want-
ed to embarrass Kobe. That was my whole mindset,” Coles said. According to Coles, while Bryant’s talent was undeniable, it was his dedication to the sport that set him apart more than anything else. “Our mutual friends would go out and party Saturday nights. Kobe would never go. Kobe would go to the gym and practice. He showed up to the gym, 5:30 in the morning before school, took a shower, and went to class in high school,” Coles said. “He always had that in him and we always knew where he was headed to, but to be honest, we didn’t think he would be this big.” Conestoga alumnus (2006) LeRoi Leviston met Bryant at two separate games between Lower Merion and Conestoga High School when Leviston was in 3rd and 4th grade. Leviston went to the games because his brother was on Conestoga’s basketball team. Leviston says he was inspired by Bryant then and now. “Kobe was just more than a basketball player. He was a person that wanted to tell stories. So right after he retired, he won an Oscar Academy Award. And he is the perfect definition of a person who is more than an athlete, a person that can do multiple things,” Leviston said. “Being a teacher and then a coach and a mentor and personal trainer, it really makes me believe that I can not only do all those things, but continue to push myself and work hard and keep reinventing myself and keep evolving.” Despite the competition, however, Coles will remember Bryant as one of his idols. Bryant’s relationship with his daughters is inspiring to Coles as a father and a coach as well. “I feel like me and my daughter got closer. We were already close, but the way we are now it’s like we don’t want to miss any moment because of what happened with Kobe and Gianna,” Coles said.
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Public photo via Wikimedia Commons
Remembering Bryant: The public creates a memorial to Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles. Bryant played for the Los Angeles Lakers for 20 years.
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