Racing against time

A Closer Look

Bump, set, spike! A phrase one would expect to hear shouted from the mouths of high school girls. However, at one point in time Piedmont high school also had a Men’s volleyball team and both boys and girls could be heard using these phrases.

  Doyle O’Regan, who has been a teacher at Piedmont since 1984 and was the coach for the cross country and track and field teams from 1985 up until 2008, noted that the creation and cutting of Men’s volleyball was due to student interest.

Student interest is generally the driving force behind creating and discontinuing high school sports, said O’Regan.

“Usually the next thing [after gaining student interest] is they find someone who is willing to coach, do they have the funds to pay for the sport,” O’Regan said.                                                                

The creation of the badminton program was driven by popularity among students, said former Athletic Director (2008-2013) and current teacher Jeff Peters.scan-22

Continued success is another factor that can yield attention from the student body and community, O’Regan said. His track and field and cross country teams gained attention after consistently going to league, sectional and state championships.

“You start getting successful, you start getting a reputation and people start paying attention to you a little more,” O’Regan said.

This is evident in the recent popularity of the women’s lacrosse team, who went to the NCS finals last year. Success coupled with coaches’ and players’ efforts to spread the word around the school helped yield a big jump in supporter attendance, said resource specialist and women’s lacrosse coach Emily Hook.

“The difference between how many people came to the games was not a huge number, but it was significant to the players,” Hook said. “They saw their teachers in the stands and that made them feel really excited.”

While supporter attendance may not have changed that much during her three years as a cross country member, the team atmosphere certainly has due to the success of the team, senior Kayla Lim said.

“We keep building on our goal, to get podium at State, and I remember a couple years ago it was to even get [to State],” Lim said.

Success has been plentiful for the football team in the last three years, however before that football players were burdened with negative attention and a stigma that was unique to Piedmont due to FSL, captain senior Andrew Meredith said.

However, there are also stigmas that are always attached to sports despite the school, O’Regan said.img_6608

“There are certain classic differences no matter what school you go to between, say, boys who play football and boys who play cross country,” O’Regan said.

An element of high school sports that has not been classical or predictable has been the number of girls involved in sports programs.

“There are a lot more girls playing and participating in sports then there was when I was in high school,” said Peters, who graduated from PHS in ‘96.

The huge increase in participation of girls in sports could be attributed to the increase in the availability and access to a wide variety of sports, Hook said.

“Now you can play almost every sport year-round, it’s everywhere, everybody wants to do better and colleges have more and more club and intramural teams,” Hook said.

Student athletes at Piedmont also see a boost in productivity in the classroom, regardless of what sport they play. Usually kids, do better academically when they play a sport, Peters said.

“Personally, I found that in playing football I have been more attentive in class and less disruptive as the football team has taught me to listen,” Meredith said.

Running gives Lim a stronger sense of focus and self-determination that has carried over into the classroom and has benefited her, Lim said.