Pulling for the Power: Powderpuff 2022


Picture courtesy of Mateo Jimenez (12).

Angelina Astic, Contents/Copy Editor

Miami Palmetto Senior High is famed for its pairing of exceptional academics with fun, school wide activities. Due to COVID-19 and the subsequent cancellation of several activities, students especially seniors have been eager to return to a calendar year filled with the fun so many missed. One of these special senior activities, the girl’s flag football game known as Powderpuff, made its return on Feb. 28.

This year’s Powderpuff game held on Palmetto’s outdoor field consisted of seven teams. Each team donned a different colored jersey to help distinguish them on the playing field. 

Coached by Mateo Jimenez, Bruno Wencelblat and Tristan Wilson, team “Ur Mom,” known for their blue jerseys, consisted of players Mikayla Ashe, Catherine Bales, Caitlin Carmona, Ana Luisa Frable, Natalie Granja, Analysse Humaran, Gianna Hutton, Shiloh Markus, Isabella Reyes and Valentina Vinces. 

Led by coaches Hunter Anes, Ethan Herskowitz and Austin Spiegelman to a second place finish, team “Space Cadets,” sported hot pink jerseys and was made up of players Hanna Adams, Hayley Glassman, Angelina Gonsalves, Allison Gould, Rachel Graff, Alyssa Hunt, Isabella Martin, Alyssa Sedler and Emily Shermer.

Wearing the traditional senior red on the field, team “Tortugas” was coached by Jaden Clarin, Nicolas Garavito and Taylor Marvel. Players included Gabi Koler, Emma Lopez, Ivanna Mantecon, Emily Mazzei, Isa Mendez, Chelsea Nicastri, Sabrina Pena, Caylie Salas and Brooke Young.

Flying across the field in bright yellow jerseys, “Beauty Bandits,” placed first, winning the 2022 Powderpuff tournament. Players Jade Castellat, Lauren Chang, Jeff Coetzee, Sofia Dipietro, Sofia Garcia, Sofia Gutierrez, Thalia Jimenez, Isabella Lazaro, Regal Marley and Alejandra Portales received training from coaches Pablo Junco, Marcos Tamargo and Jeronimo Quintero.

“Shawties of Terror,” coached by Ian Chehab, Adam Cohen and Michael Lago, and recognizable by their green jerseys, featured players Daniela Hernandez, Isabella Jimenez, Caroline Kinkade, Luisa Lacayo, Criya Mahabir, Alexis Ortega, Julia Strasius, Samantha Trana and Stephanie Viamonte.  

A sea of purple, team “Goal Diggers,” trained with the help of coaches Adriano Guarino, Joe Corradino and Ignacio Garcia. The team’s roster included Katherine Cruz-Alvarez, Marissa Bejar, Rebeca Blacher, Lexi Flores, Marlee Golinsky, Cayetana Jaramillo, Jessica Levy, Gabriella Martinez, Riley Tendler and Grace Weinbach. 

The “QTs,” consisting of Ashley Alfonso, Daniela Andino, Angelina Atilano, Alyssa Escobar, Kayla Perez-Fontaine, Camila Gamboa, Cing Huai, Anastasia Perez, Gianna Perez and Sarah Vreones, were coached by Manuel Cutie, Josh Juarez and Danny Sevilla. The team sported white t-shirts.

Organized by Bales, a senior who participated in the games herself, Powderpuff planning began a few months ago. An announcement went out recruiting senior boys to sign up as coaches and create teams. Senior girls also had the ability to seek out coaches to sign up and subsequently form teams.

“Me, Michael and Adam, we just got a blend of all three of our friends to create a team that we thought we could combine together and have a good time,” Chehab said. 

Many senior girls decided to participate for a myriad of reasons. For some, these past years of time in distant learning and separation from peers led to their decision to participate in the games. 

“I knew all of my coaches and a couple of my players at first, but then I got to meet a bunch of people on the team that I didn’t know who they were before and a couple of them I’ve even hung out with after [practice],” Garcia said. 

For participants, like Bales, Martinez and Shermer, the games offered an opportunity to join in as a participant in one activity of many that they are responsible for planning throughout the school year. 

“I thought it would be a fun idea and a fun way to get close with other people who I wouldn’t necessarily hang out with outside of school.” Martinez said. “It was fun to participate in a school activity where instead of coordinating it, I was actually a part of it and could get to play.”

For the past few months, each team trained together, working on conditioning, learning plays and growing as teammates. Many girls came into Powderpuff without prior experience in flag football, evening the playing field for many. This meant that many coaches had to focus on training the girls in a new sport, but also ensure that they could be a bit competitive. 

“At first, we started by seeing how good certain people were with throwing a ball, catching a ball, all sorts of stuff,” Garavito said. “So, we centered our practices around not only running, so they would get in shape, but also going through plays so that they would be able to perform them for the day.” 

As powderpuff is a flag football game, coaches also had to introduce many of the players to that element of the games, which many of the girls had never been confronted with in sports before. 

“The first practices were to evaluate what people could do and what their strengths were and identify that,” Austin Spiegelman said. “In the next practices, we just practiced plays mostly and flag pulling.”

Due to COVID-19, the games were rescheduled, which shifted the practice schedule for many teams. Regardless, many of the coaches were able to work together and prepare for the tournament. 

“We would warm-up, run little routes and show them how to do the plays and let them know what they can and can’t do in the games,” Guarino said. “We taught the quarterback how to throw and make sure she’s accurate and we would run a little scrimmage at the end of practice to make sure that everyone knew what they were doing.”  

Referees for this year’s games included two teams, faculty, senior teachers and senior boys. Linda Dwyer, Palmetto’s CAP Counselor, and senior Ari Rolnick teamed up as well as Joel Soldinger, Palmetto’s AP Macroeconomics teacher, and senior Zach Blank, and Kenneth Spiegelman, Palmetto’s AP U.S. Government and AP Comparative Government and Politics Teacher, all served as referees. 

The two teams of referees included senior boys who had decided not to be coaches for teams but wanted to bring their knowledge of football onto the powderpuff field from the perspective of a referee. 

“I just really wanted to get involved in the senior activities. I’m really passionate about football, I know a lot about football,” Blank said. “I was just introduced to the referee position by a couple [of] friends and it was with Mr. Soldinger, who was a teacher I had in the first two quarters of the year, and thought I would love to do it with him.” 

This year marked the first time that Dwyer worked as a referee at the Powderpuff games. Both Soldinger and Spiegelman have coached high school football in the past, and have traditionally served as referees at the Powderpuff games. As senior teachers, many of their own students play during the game, providing them with the chance to contribute to a key senior activity, especially for senior girls. 

“One of the best things about teaching in a high school and teaching seniors are events like these,” Soldinger said. “We hope that everyone has fun and that we can make it something that helps the seniors feel that their back into the swing of things by having a year filled with all the activities they missed.”

Despite the competitive spirit and nature of the game, the goal for many girls was singular: to have fun.

“It was really fun. Everyone tried their best and we all laughed so much. That’s the best part,” Gonsalves said. “We really needed that especially with everything going on with college, it was really stress relieving. We just got to enjoy the day.”