Groundhog powderpuff: an experience and tradition

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IRVING, TX - FEBRUARY 3: University of Dallas Powder Puff game on February 3, 2018. (Photo by: Anthony Mazur)

On Saturday, Jan. 3, the upperclassmen continued their undefeated winning streak in powderpuff against the underclassmen. Led by coaches Dominic King and Marcos Carmona, the upperclassmen won 18-13 in the last seconds of the game. The underclassmen put up a good fight but could not stop senior quarterback Alice Nelson from scoring the winning touchdown. The crowd went wild as Nelson crossed into the end zone, and just like that, another great game of Groundhog Powderpuff had come and gone.

My participation in this beloved game has become an unusual tradition for me since my freshman year. Powderpuff was popular at my high school, but I was never really interested in joining. I had played soccer, basketball, and softball and was accustomed to contact sports, so I quickly fell in love with powderpuff after coming here to the University of Dallas. My friends and I didn’t play for Charity Week when we were freshmen but decided to sign up for the Groundhog game to see what it was like. We were pleasantly surprised.

Despite its girlish name, powderpuff is not for the faint of heart. It may only be flag football, but from my experience, it’s also extremely rough and physical. As all my friends and family know, I’m an accident-prone person, but that didn’t stop me from playing powderpuff. After I was hit in the teeth during the game freshman year, I decided to wear a mouth guard, which I still wear while playing. I found that if my team wanted to win, we had to be as rough and tough as the upperclassmen. We freshmen banded together and gave the seniors a run for their money. We lost, but we told ourselves that we would be ready for them next year.

When my sophomore year rolled around and it was once again time for Groundhog Powderpuff, my friends and I were eager to get back in the game. However, this game took a turn for the worse for me. With only a minute and a half or so left in the game, we were tied with the upperclassmen. I was on defense as a safety, and when the quarterback launched the ball to one of her teammates who was closest to me, I immediately ran to try to block the throw. We both jumped up at the same time, but I came down first, and the girl’s elbow came down on my temple. It happened so fast and the wind had been knocked out of me.,  I stood bent over for a while to recover from the hit. Just as I was about to stand up, the girl who had accidentally hit me came over to see if I was okay, took one look at my face, and said, “Oh my gosh.”

I’ve had many sport-related injuries in the past, from knees to the stomach in basketball and a black eye from softball, but nothing was as scary as the injury I received from Groundhog Powderpuff 2017. Those three words that the girl had said rang in my head as she grabbed my hand, forced it onto my forehead near my eyebrow, and said, “Hold that there.”

I barely knew what was going on, except that I was now surrounded by my teammates and some of the upperclassmen. My head was pounding, and I felt blood gushing down my hand as I held it against my head. My first thought was, ‘What did I do this time?’

One friend later told me I looked like I was about to pass out, and I remember some of the girls grabbing my arms to support me. They led me off the field and sat me down on the sidelines.

I was shaking at that point, more from shock than from the actual pain that had started a few seconds before. All I knew was that blood was everywhere, and I couldn’t see the damage that had been done. Dominic King, who was coaching the upperclassmen at the time, came over to me with Kleenex to stop the bleeding before the nurse got  to the field. When I asked how bad it was, he said that the cut looked small and not too serious but could need stitches.

The game continued without me, and the upperclassmen scored. I was examined by a pre-med student and then the school nurse, who put two butterfly stitches over my eyebrow. Essentially, the side of my head near my eyebrow had busted open, and I still have a small scar from it to this day. Luckily, I did not have a concussion, but it took awhile for the cut to fully heal.

Despite the injury, I have continued to play and will play UD powderpuff in the future. My injury had resulted from a freak accident and being at the wrong place at the wrong time; it was not enough to prevent me from playing a sport I loved.

Here at UD, we have many traditions – Groundhog being one of the most prominent – but for me, Groundhog Powderpuff is just as traditional. There’s something special about getting together with friends, practicing and running drills two days before the game. There’s something about getting to the game, pulling on your team shirt, and smearing war paint on your face. There’s something special about that moment when your teammate crosses the end zone for the winning touchdown and everyone runs out on the field yelling and cheering. It’s the camaraderie that draws me back to the game, and it will be a bittersweet moment next year when I play my last game as a senior. I have gotten to know so many great young women by being involved in this sport, and together we have made some great memories.

Do we get a little too aggressive in the game? Yes, probably. Do we take this game too seriously? Maybe so, but it’s all for fun, and there’s no harm in taking it seriously. We all have a competitive edge, and since I no longer play a team sport, powderpuff allows me to play like I used to in high school. Groundhog Powderpuff is an amazing tradition, an epic, intense battle between underclassmen and upperclassmen. I believe it’s important to keep such traditions alive because it ties together so many generations of UD students that have come and gone over the years. We may only play twice a year, but those two days are filled with some great memories. As a junior, I’ve begun to realize how many amazing opportunities and traditions we have here at UD, and since I only have one year left after this semester, I will do my best to enjoy all of them before it’s my time to graduate.ndhog

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