GDS students gathered on April 23 on the high school field and half a mile south at Sidwell Friends School to watch their classmates compete in five sports games as part of the biannual Sports Saturday tradition.
The men’s and women’s varsity lacrosse teams and the varsity softball team played at GDS, while men’s varsity baseball played a doubleheader against Saint James at Sidwell. GDS teams won four of Saturday’s five games, all except for the first ballgame at Sidwell.
“Today’s Sports Saturday was a huge success,” Athletic Director David Gillespie said. “It was also Alumni Weekend, so we had a lot of GDS alums who came back today and were able to come to the games. Our fan turnout was really great.”
Throughout the day, hundreds of people—faculty, staff, middle and high schoolers and their families—milled about campus, taking part in both the Sports Saturday festivities and GDS’ first Eco-Market Day fair, hosted by the Student Action Committee and Environmental Task Force.
“There are teams in all of our sports that we would struggle against and then there are other teams where we might have pretty dominant wins,” Gillespie, who scheduled the day’s games, said. “So I was trying to find teams that were a good level of competition.”
The common thread between the coaches and athletes the Bit interviewed was pride and optimism approaching the end of the season.
The men’s varsity lacrosse team kicked off the day with a game against D.C. International School. GDS immediately took control, with seven goals in the first quarter. They took their foot off the gas eventually, but kept it a shutout, with the final score 13–0.
“You could see that everyone was focused and had worked hard, and this was an example of that paying off,” senior Hayden Martz, one of the team’s captains, said. “All of the guys got playing time, which was nice, and it was all around a good performance.”
Head coach Taylor Brown believes that the game was a sign of good things to come. “We have a young team, and today we saw them all play well together,” he said. “It’s just important that they keep working hard for the rest of the season.”
Spectators who stuck around the high school field after the men’s game were joined by a bigger crowd to watch the women’s varsity lacrosse team play Bishop McNamara High School at noon. GDS led for most of the game, cruising to an 18–11 win. “We loved showing our home crowd what we could do,” head coach Parker Benedict said after the game.
“Today was a really good opportunity to showcase a lot of the different talents we have on this team,” Benedict added. “It was great to see our seniors being leaders on the field.”
The men’s varsity baseball team traded the lead with Saint James for most of the first game in the doubleheader. A clutch double by senior Ken Bailey tied the game at eight runs in the seventh inning, which would have been the last. But Saint James staved off the Hoppers’ rally, blasting two home runs in an extra inning to put the game out of reach, resulting in a final score of 13–9.
GDS did not back down, however, and rebounded with a dominating 18–3 win in the second game.
“We did a good job with getting the bats going early in the second game,” senior Noah Shelton said, “and in the first game we did not do that.” Shelton thinks that the win will provide the team with momentum heading into the playoffs in spite of its losing record.
Both games witnessed contention between the umpires and the Saint James coach, who loudly voiced his disapproval of many calls. His starting pitcher was ejected in the second game following a verbal altercation with the home plate umpire.
The GDS bench watched the antics amusedly and remained spirited throughout the day—their jokes, along with head coach Todd Carter’s reminders to stay composed and focused, could be heard from the stands.
When sophomore Matt Del Guercio, No. 5, was pitching to Saint James’ star player, who wears No. 6, the GDS bench hollered, “Why was six scared of five? Because five eight six.” When GDS was at bat, the players suggested that it was in Saint James’s outfielders’ best interest to shift to 37th Street.
In a post-game interview, Carter said he was pleased with the team’s offensive consistency, an area that he is looking to improve upon going into the playoffs, in the second game.
Women’s varsity softball also won against D.C. International, 25–9, earning its first victory of the season.
“We’re a young team. We’re trying to come out of the last COVID years just piecing it together,” head coach Donna Stallworth said. “Getting this win today can really motivate the girls, and it’ll help for the remainder of the season.” The team has practices and games scheduled through the end of May, according to the athletic calendar.
Senior Eve Kolker, one of the team’s captains, agreed with Stallworth that the game “showed the team that we can do this and we can win.”
Stallworth also thought that the win was a sign of the team’s progress. “We’re going to play some hard teams,” she said, but “every practice we’re getting better, we’re understanding the game more.”
“We haven’t had what I would call a normal spring sports season in a while because of COVID,” Gillespie said. “So it’s great to have all the teams back out on the field, especially with so many people here to support them.”