Varsity Initiation: Petrifying, or Pure Fun?

Article by Anu Babuji

Photo compiled by Matthew Seet

Varsity Team initiations are a trademark of high school athletics and are held around the world. Whether it be initiating only the new Freshmen members, or initiating any new member of a Varsity team, these traditional rituals are known to be rather quirky.

Initiations could range from being simple but ritualistic, such as reciting an oath in a dark and cold candlelit room, to being extravagant, such as having the house egged or waking up early in the morning to execute acts of pure insanity.

Whilst some initiations are done to intimidate new members, most are done to warmly welcome them into the Varsity team family. Whilst this is a prominent tradition in schools around the world, is this a notable tradition amongst the Bearcats? If so, to what lengths do Bearcat Varsity Teams go in order to induct new members into their families?

According to Junior Sophia De Dios, who is in the Varsity Volleyball and Swim teams, “all the teams do [initiations]. It’s kind of an unspoken rule that [teams] have to have initiation for [their] rookies”. She further states that “[initiation] was supposed to be fun for sure. Something that [the team] could all laugh about.” When asked what she believed initiation did to the new members, Sophia answered: “It brings a closeness to the team because after initiation, no one’s really shy to be around other people.”

Junior Kate Watkins, a rookie and recent initiate of the swim team, provided a similar response when asked about her experience during the initiation. She said, “[the initiation] was really fun and the whole swim team is really fun.” Kate, along with the other rookies and freshmen joining the Varsity Swim Team, had to go through a rather amusing initiation, in which the team members had to find, using their faces, cookies that were buried under whipped cream. Team members who were not able to find the cookies had to proceed to doing another stage of the initiation, in which they were required to do certain dares in order to be officially initiated into the team. When asked if she felt prestigious and honored after the process, Kate replied: “I felt normal. I think the thing with the swim team is that you already start training together before the initiation, compared to other sports… initiation just feels like an extra step.”

Whilst other athletes might have contradicting opinions to those of Sophia and Kate, it is evident that initiations within ISM are generally done with the sole purpose of amusement, which implicitly but inevitably helps bring rookies and old members of a Varsity team closer together, ultimately helping to create a tightly knit family.