The alumni game is a Berkeley High School (BHS) tradition for many of its sports teams, in which alumni athletes are invited back to BHS to play with athletes of their sport. Current athletes get a chance to connect with and learn from graduated athletes, who in turn reconnect with their high school sport and community. On Saturday, December 18, BHS girls soccer alumni met with the BHS girls varsity team for a friendly scrimmage. The alumni were reintroduced to BHS soccer through a casual game, playing against this year’s team in a fun environment. The players then switched from the game to shooting drills, practicing penalty kicks. Later, a new game began with integrated teams, alumni playing alongside current athletes. The day ended with everyone circling up and the alumni giving short speeches to the current players. “It’s fun,” said Cristina McCarthy, a BHS 2019 graduate, about what coming back to play at BHS meant to her. “This is our community, and it’s nice to meet up with everyone.” McCarthy also spoke on what advice she gave to current players. “This program gets really close, more than most programs I think, and I don’t want them to take [the community] for granted,” she said.
Myah Polzin, a junior who has been on the girls varsity soccer team for three years, emphasized that the alumni had a big impact on the current players. “For the girls who advanced through years of high school alongside the alums … they’ve created such strong and long-lasting bonds and it’s heartwarming to see,” Polzin said. Polzin spoke on what she hopes the alumni game will inspire in the team: “Hopefully the alumni game gives all the girls something to work hard for.”
For June McNally, a sophomore who joined varsity girls soccer this year, the game had a different takeaway. “It was sort of odd to connect with old players because I didn’t expect it to be so familial; they really acted like we were all part of the community and it was really refreshing,” McNally said. “It was really funny playing with them because it was more casual than expected.”
While giving returning athletes an opportunity to reconnect with old friends and teammates, the tradition of an alumni game gives younger players like McNally a chance to see what the BHS girls soccer community is all about. “I can’t take this season, or any others, for granted,” said McNally about what she learned from the alumni. “I have to cherish the moments I have with my teammates.