Tight-knit Wilcox powder puff team catches ‘lightning in a bottle,’ coach says

MIDDLETOWN — Despite only having a couple weeks to prepare, Wilcox Technical High School overcame its rival Vinal Technical High School in their powder puff football matchup on Tuesday.

“All the girls put in an enormous effort and every one of our offensive players contributed to that game. So they’re all MVPs in my book,” said Dan Burns, who coached the Wilcox team along with fellow gym teacher Cathy Bergquist.

Wilcox’s offense kept the pressure up throughout the game, scoring 34 points and preventing Vinal from scoring once.

The two teams faced off at the Pat Kidney Sports Complex in Middletown, each with around 15 players.

The team’s cohesion and knowledge of a game many of them hadn’t played before was all the more notable given that Tuesday’s game was only given the green light around two weeks ago due to COVID concerns, starting off a rush to fit in practices.

“For only having a week and a half or two weeks to learn the 14 plays that we did, the girls did an awesome job and they all did their assignments well,” he said. Being able to create a team that played so well so quickly was like “catching lightning in a bottle,” he said.

Though it was stressful pulling the team together so quickly, quarterback Tatiana Roblez said the momentum they carried throughout Tuesday’s game started with their first practice.

“It was tough. I was stressing, the whole team was stressing, but when we got to practice we all put our straight faces on and just made it happen. And then when we got here it was magic,” she said.

They were also helped by the bonds many of the players already shared coming onto the team. Roblez said most of the players have known each other throughout their time at Wilcox, allowing them to pick right up with playing alongside each other.

“We all grew up together, we all had that trust, we all bonded on the field — on and off the field — so we knew that we had it in the bag,” she said.

Vinal Coach Jason Bouvier said his players also only had a few weeks to prepare for the game and were largely younger than the Wilcox players, who were all seniors. Despite their loss, he said his players came off the field with new relationships.

“Hopefully we can keep building the numbers of girls up and keep spreading the positive message of what this is, which is building relationships, making friends and just having a good time.”

Since powder puff draws on students from across the sports teams and outside athletics entirely, he said it’s especially valuable at technical schools that have students drawn from dozens of towns.

“It was really eye opening to hear the girls and how much this and getting to know one another and build those relationships really meant to them and that’s what it’s really all about,” he said. “Wilcox obviously has a bunch of really good girls and they did a great job on the field, but I wouldn’t trade any of my girls for any of them.”



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