What does “team” mean to Holyoke High Winter Athletes?


Maria Zaya, Herald Staff

The winter sports season is officially underway at Holyoke High School. Winter sports include track, swim, cheerleading, wrestling and basketball. All teams have demonstrated hard work and teamwork throughout the season,  which begins at the end of November and ends in the middle of January. 

A typical team is a group of people with different skills and different responsibilities, and who work together on a common project, service, or goal. But what is a team for Holyoke High athletes?  To respond to this question, we asked one person from each team to define what the word “team” means to them. 

Dereck Concepcion, Varsity Wrestling: “What team means to me is a big family coming together to support you on a common goal that everyone has to be better, get better, not only on mats or in the sport itself but in life itself. [It] is more than just a team, it’s a big happy family.” 

Savannah Donnelly, Swimming: “I think being part of a team is support and always being there…With swimming you’re alone but not alone, so having that support there with you, to be like ‘oh yeah you got that’ really helps. Just to be kind and just know that you always have someone there and celebrate your victories with them.” 

Samantha Brennan, Track: “A team is a group of people that are willing to be there for you when you need it. Especially in sports, it is important to have a strong foundation for a team. A successful team is based on each and every person involved.” 

Jayshalee Santos, Varsity Cheerleading: “A team for me…is when you’re surrounding yourself with people who have  positive energy and a good environment, always supporting each other, no matter any mistakes that…go wrong. Not every team is perfect, but we build that chemistry together and create a better program for our school.” 

Ezequiel Vazquez, JV Wrestling: “Being a team as a wrestler means, even though we’re all wrestling for ourselves and/or our coaches, we still have to work together during our practices, work on stuff we are struggling together with so that we can all learn from our mistakes and continue to move on  and to do better the next time. Even though we are wrestling for ourselves, we’re doing it as a team, because [there is] a strong connection between all of us. If one of us is down, the rest of us are down, so we are all helping each other.” 

Nathan Pok, Freshman Basketball: “I feel supported by my teammates while playing. They help me throughout practices and games.” 

Avantaey Rivera, JV Basketball: “What it means to me to be on a team is teamwork, passing the ball during practice, talking, everything. In order to win games, you have to communicate, so being on a team means communication with your coaches, teammates, talking throughout everything and teamwork. Being on a team to me is talking. If you don’t talk, you don’t win…”

Lexan Fontanez-Castillo, Varsity Basketball: “What the word ‘team’ means to me is like a group of people who work together to achieve a goal, and even when someone does a mistake or something [goes] wrong, you help them up and try to achieve the goal. Here at Holyoke High, our basketball team is more or less a family, where no matter how bad of a day we had we are all family, we all help each other. We’re a brotherhood, and that could go for any team, girls, boys. What team means to me is equality and unity.” 

Jessayra Maldonado, JV Girls Basketball: “What a team means to me is when you are together, put trust into each other, and know what’s best for them, having a good bond with them. Having a good bond with a team [is key] because you can communicate better and have a better relationship. When you have a team it’s like having a family because you spend most of your days with them and you just make the best out of [your time together].”

Nayshaliz Gonzalez, JV Cheerleading: “To me, being on a team is making sure you are a part and making sure you’re putting in your full 100%. You join the team…because you took interest in the sport. You have to make sure you’re doing your part.” 

Kylie Blaha, Varsity Girls Basketball: “What it means to me to be on a team is to have a group of people I call friends and we always hang out and have each others’ backs. You just have to get the work done in whatever sport you have.” 

To Holyoke High athletes, a team means responsibility, teamwork, trust, friendship, having each other’s backs. For these students, it means a family that they can always count on, no matter if it is during practice, tournaments or outside of the sport altogether.