End to battle of the sexes

Rise of co-ed teams brings unique opportunities, challenges to athletes


Co-ed water polo team practices in the pool.

Five seconds left on the clock, and you shoot the game winning three. It goes in. You immediately look to the student section and in search of that specific person, but what if they were on your team? This has been a possibility for a few of the sports teams at Saint Viator. While most teams are strictly boys and girls, there have been a few teams that stand as an exception.
Aside from the teammates you may or may not have, the teams you play against are also different from the traditional sports teams.
“Very few schools also have a co-ed team,” said senior Ricky Anesi, who is a varsity water polo player on one of the few co-ed teams at Saint Viator. “This leaves us facing a lot of all guys teams, which puts us at a consistent disadvantage. I think that girls [on the team] are incredibly talented and excellent water polo players; in a physical sport like water polo, it is easy to hurt someone. Balancing being fair versus being challenging is something you have to think of on a co-ed team that you don’t give thought to on a regular team.”
While there are positives and negatives to co-ed teams, playing with people that you usually would not be able to can sometimes allow a player to gain new knowledge, experience, and a new sense of appreciation for the sport and teammates of the opposite sex.
“In my opinion playing on a co-ed team helps me grow as a player,” said junior Louisa Battin, who was on the water polo and bowling team. “You get an entirely new perspective on the sport from a different gender and we can learn off each other’s skills to become even better players. In my case, competitiveness grows and the co-ed team makes me work even harder and in the end leaves with a better pay off.”
Regardless of who is on your team, friendships are bound to develop.
“We are still very close with the girls polo team.” said Anesi. “We practice at the same pool at the same time, and we still hang out together after practices.”
These friendships can inspire other student-athletes, coaches and fans.
“The interactions between teammates on a co-ed team have been amazing to witness,” said Mr. Weber, the head bowling coach. “When we compete in gendered competitions by the IHSA, the boys are missing the girls and vice versa. I think this speaks to the friendships which are forged on co-ed teams, in which gender makes no difference in team bonding.”
Whether or not sports should remain separated by gender is one that arises from many different perspectives. Some student-athletes believe that teams should remain co-ed in some instances.
“For some sports, I would prefer co-ed,” said Battin. “It gives us a better opportunity to grow as a team because it increases the roster size, and practices are more competitive. On the other hand, sports like volleyball should always remain all girls or all boys because of the amount of girls who try out.”
In contrast, some student-athletes prefer a separated team for many reasons.
“I believe that it is for the best that the two genders remain separate,” said Anesi. “It stifles both teams to be co-ed, as neither team can compete in regular tournaments or a regular season. It is also a lot better for the underclass men of each gender to learn how to play a sport like polo with people of their physical ability. Finally, it makes the team more respectable to other schools if we play the way they do.”
High school athletes want to win, and they want to have fun. In some scenarios, making a team co-ed makes the most sense and will increase the chances of the athletes’ goals being achieved, while in other cases, it is for the best that a team remains one gender. However, the possibility of co-ed teams can be an opportunity for athletes to shed light on a bigger issue. Co-ed teams can grant players a stage where they can prove that they can compete with anyone, regardless of gender. This opens up the doors for gender equality in sports and uplifting of all athletes to be celebrated for solely their hard work, skill, and dedication to a sport and to a team.