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Weather, practice, makeup all matter as Meriden’s Wilcox Tech prepares for Vinal Tech powder puff game

MERIDEN — The traditional powder puff game is on: Wilcox Technical High School will face Vinal Technical High School next week. 

“This year will be the first year we’re holding the powder puff game before the actual Wilcox vs. Vinal rivalry game,” said Karina Torres, Wilcox Technical’s powder puff head coach. “So we’re going to be the opener and get people excited about the game, which will be played right after.” 

The girls will suit up for a game of flag football at Pat Kidney Field in Middletown with kickoff Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. 

Makeup and weather

“The girls were just discussing what they were going to wear and what they were going to do with their hair and makeup,” said Dan Burns, Wilcox’s assistant powder puff coach. “They agreed with Karina on black pants and blue shirts.” 

The teams will play two 20-minute halves of running time (clock doesn’t stop except for scoring, injuries, etc.).

“Of course there is no tackling, they will pull the person’s flags,” Torres said.

Torres and Burns are hoping for warm weather because that has been helping the girls play well in practice and be motivated. 

“The last time we played (2021), it was extremely cold, but it was not raining or snowing,” Burns said.

He added, “Karina was actually a student of mine and played on one of my teams (he was assistant coach then as well) and that year, the weather was a little rough. It snowed.”

Putting in the practice

The girls have been practicing every day after school Monday through Friday, learning the game and preparing for the big game.

“This year we started off with running simple routes just to see which girls can throw, catch, who’s the fastest runner, who’s the fastest defender ... and then once we broke those down and started determining positions for offense and defense, we started running plays,” Torres said. “They learned plays day one and then we gradually kept building up to plays that were more intricate as they get more comfortable.”

Due to the late start in getting things going, Burns shared that they haven’t had as much time to train them for the game.

 “So typically in the past, we’re able to train them for three weeks to a month. This year we only had a week and a half to two weeks,” Burns said. “But the girls are really enthusiastic about it, they’re picking it up pretty well and really looking forward to the camaraderie of it.”

Angela Zandry and Nilanie Rivera, both seniors at Wilcox Tech who have never played flag football before, landed big roles on the team, Zandry as running back and Rivera as quarterback.

“I got involved for the experience and the fun of it and it has been an interesting experience,” Rivera said. “It has been a lot of fun learning and practicing. I knew some of the girls but not all of them. But we’ve all connected pretty well.” 

Special for the seniors

Zandry shared that this was a senior activity that she really wanted to return and participate in.

“They tried to do it last year but it got canceled and I know a lot of people were disappointed,” she added. “There was talk about it happening this year between the teachers, but I feel like no one really took initiative and was trying to get it going, so when I talked to my class advisor, it pushed the teachers to get involved.”

One thing was missing though: a head coach. 

“I approached Ms. Torres at the end of volleyball season and asked if she would be our head coach. She played powder puff when she was a senior, went to this school, played flag football after high school, is very athletic and kind of knows what she’s doing,” Zandry said. “I knew she’d be perfect.”

Torres gladly accepted.

“I love her for stepping up and coaching us,” Rivera said. “ And taking the time out of her day to teach us a new sport, so we really appreciate her.” 

But Torres got a bit of a late start on her first year coaching because she had to wait until volleyball season was over to fully jump in. 

“Mr. Burns has been doing powder puff for years, and has been holding things down,” Torres said. “We also got some football players to help us out and in return the boys joined the cheerleading practice .”

Switching the roles

The cheerleaders for the game consist of the Wilcox Tech senior boys.

“When my sister was in high school, she did Powder Puff and I saw how the boys dressed up and just had a good time cheering and supporting the girls team, so I figured I should do my duty and support the girls senior class as well,” said Krystian Colbert, a senior cheerleader at Wilcox. “And I’ve always enjoyed dancing and stuff, so I’ve been enjoying the process. It's all about having a good time.” 

The boys will also be doing a half-time performance to “Boy’s a liar Pt. 2,” by PinkPantheress and Ice Spice.

“I choreographed the dance,” said Devon Diaz, Wilcox senior cheerleader. “I love to dance. I’ve been dancing from a young age and did theater, so I saw this as a great opportunity to be a part of a team, cheer on some friends on the team, dance and have fun.” 

They will also be performing their routine at the pep rally on Monday. 

“We’re holding the pep rally to get everyone excited about the game,” Torres said. “We hope everyone comes out to the game and supports us. It should be fun.”

Rivera shared that she is a little nervous but excited and has some family coming to the game.

“I am excited as well,” Zandry said. “But I do get nervous a lot during games (I play soccer) but I’m ready. If we win, it would feel incredible. Like I said, they didn’t have it last year so this would be like a big victory for us.” 



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