Athletic teams partner up to facilitate community, support


Whitman women's basketball and men's tennis pose at the top of their hike after completing the Blue Mountain Challenge on Friday, Sept 13. Photo contributed by Emily Solomon

Miguel Baza, Sports Reporter

Whitties across the athletic community are developing new perspectives on what it means to be a Division III varsity athlete. Whitman has always had a close-knit community amongst teams, but this year teams are trying to grow even closer by pairing up for various bonding activities. 

With the grueling schedules that all varsity teams maintain–even while out of season–sometimes finding time to have fun outside of one’s sport becomes a challenge. Although athletes may not engage in partner team activities frequently, when they do, it serves as a much-needed study break for those who spend much of their time outside of studying playing on a varsity team. The point is to simply get to know each other and have a good time.

Bear Lee, a junior tennis player, spoke to this aspect.

Photo contributed by Emily Solomon

“I believe partner teams are important mainly just because they’re a fun experience,” Lee said. “They allow us to meet fellow student-athletes outside of our own team. It was fun to meet other varsity athletes in a way we never would have before.”

Every year it is tradition for the men’s tennis team to attempt the Blue Mountain Challenge Hike. The group is tasked with completing a two-mile hike at Pikes Peak, a trail about 15 minutes off-campus. Once they reach the top, players are rewarded with a beautiful view of Walla Walla Valley, but even more importantly, a feast cooked by their very own coaches. On Friday, Sept. 13, the women’s basketball squad rose to the challenge and hiked alongside the men’s tennis players, all of them reaping the delicious benefits that the tennis coaching staff had waiting at the top.

“The Blue Mountain Challenge was super fun, albeit challenging, experience,” Lee said. “I am definitely looking forward to the next couple of activities, but I’m unsure what they’re exactly going to be.”

Junior basketball player Kaelan Shamseldin said that both teams enjoyed the opportunity to hang out with athletes outside their own teams.

“I think it was a great experience for both teams and I know many of us are definitely looking forward to the next activity,” Shamseldin said.

These activities help build relationships. While these athletes participate in different sports, they all represent Whitman College. Having partnered teams helps to create those bonds amongst the varsity athletics community.

Rajul Chikkalingaiah, a senior tennis player, attested to the value of having partner teams as an instrument for connection.

“It was a good team bonding experience and opportunity to meet new people,” Chikkalingaiah said. “I think these types of activities does a good thing for comradery and to the overall collective spirit of Whitman sports.”

According Shamseldin, having teams group up into partnerships helps build a community that does not naturally occur in everyday life on campus. 

The women’s basketball team doesn’t run into the men’s tennis team very often in the halls,” Shamseldin said. “So having the partner teams is an easy way to get both teams together.”

These partnerships give athletes a feeling that they have support from other athletes at Whitman. Not only do they become better friends, but they also gain more encouragement during their sporting events. 

“Other than just meeting new people, I think it gives each person some support around campus and sports,” Chikkalingaiah said. “I know after meeting a few of the athletes I am interested in watching them play.”

Overall, athletes are fans of the partner teams idea. The Blues are looking forward to doing more activities together, getting to know each other even more along the way.

Whitman women’s basketball and men’s tennis pose at the top of their hike after completing the Blue Mountain Challenge on Friday, Sept 13. Photo contributed by Emily Solomon