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Team Bonding Creates Hopkins Sports “Families”

Eli Ratner '24 Assistant Sports Editor
At Hopkins, sports teams create a vibrant family-like environment for student-athletes. The sense of community, gained through team bonding, surrounding these athletes can affect the individual players and the team’s performance.
A popular activity for team bonding is having team dinners at a teammate’s house the night before a game. Daya Baum ’24 said, “Team dinners were a great bonding opportunity for the Girls Field Hockey team, and they helped me become more comfortable both on and off the field.” Matt Goos ’25 stated that “team dinners are an important part of building a closer [team] bond.” Baum explained, “Not only were the dinners themselves fun, but the drive from school was one of my favorite parts of Field Hockey season.” Both of these athletes enjoyed the opportunity to gather and have fun with teammates outside of practice.

Additionally, some sports organize “secret psych” ahead of a game. This is a tradition where each member of the team brings a gift, usually candy and a poster, for another teammate right before a game. Katherine Tombaugh ’24 loves secret psych because it “was one of the main reasons why [she] felt included in the [swim] team. Knowing that someone took the time and effort to buy things that you like and create a poster for you makes you feel so much more connected with the team.” Qamar Al-Tameemi ’25 believes that “getting some encouragement before a race might calm someone’s nerves, which might help them perform better.” Individual athletes are affected differently by these bonding experiences. Goos said that having team dinners “makes it easier to play your hardest [since you] know you aren’t only playing for yourself.” Additionally, This team mentality
— the goal to work hard for your teammates – is a product of bonding experiences like team dinners. As athletes shift from just teammates to friends, the drive to push oneself for the team’s and your teammates’ benefit increases.

Certain teams have and rely on team bonding in their sport in varying amounts due to different opportunities presented. For example, Basketball’s tournament at Kingswood-Oxford gives the players a chance to bond and get closer outside of Hopkins. Additionally, the Ski Team’s annual trip to a ski mountain, this year’s being to Jay Peak, presents itself as a perfect opportunity to get closer with teammates. Aanya Panyadahundi ’23 says that Ski Team is like a close family: “Team bonding is so important to Ski Team because it is quite literally a family- everyone looks out for each other. If you have a bad run, every single person on the team is there to cheer you up. And if you place well, everyone celebrates with you.” Panyadahundi also explains how the bond Ski Team shares makes the sport more enjoyable: “Ski Team would not be Ski Team without the friendships and bonds created.” This mentality shows how essential team bonding is to Ski Team and the people on the team.

Similarly, many sports at Hopkins rely on bonding because, as Panyadahundi states, “It so much more fun to be doing something you love when surrounded by your friends.”
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