Living Up To The Hype

Madhu Ramkumar and Adar Schwarzbach

We all know about the teams that won. The SCVAL champions, the undefeated seasons and the D1 commits. Clearly, being an athlete at Paly comes with pressure. More specifically, athlete’s on Paly’s many championship teams deal with the burden of living up to the expectations that were set by the teams of the past. Some may take this on as a source of motivation, and a personal challenge, while others might struggle with the weight of the team’s success on their shoulders. To see how athletes deal with the pressure to perform, let’s take a look at some athletes on two of Paly’s many successful teams.


Feet scurry across the turf as the Boys Lacrosse team takes the field. Sticks in hand, the team gets ready to crush their opponent, the hunger for a win gleaming in their eyes. Paly boys lacrosse has long had a reputation of being an exemplar sport at Paly. During the 2016-2019 season, the team took home three league titles. It seemed as though Lacrosse would never come down from the high. However, their luck did not last. Although the 2020 season was abbreviated due to COVID-19, the team had yet to win a game at the time the season was canceled. Clearly, the lacrosse team caught a case of the championship hangover.

“We lost guys like (Aiden) Gans (‘19) as well as other pretty dynamic players and that definitely hurt us.”

— Maguire Ferrel ('20)


The sound of water splashing echoes through the empty school. At the crack of dawn before school, girls jump into the chilly water and begin their rigorous practice. Girls swimming has long been a thriving sport at Paly. The team holds 26 league wins, the most in Paly history, as well as 4 CCS titles. The swimming program is also a mass producer of star athletes. From Pac 12 and NCAA champs to swimmers who have even made the Olympic team, it is clear that the championship mentality is deeply entrenched in the swim team culture. Let’s see how Paly swim alumni dealt with this pressure.


“When I was a sophomore, we had just graduated out a very fast group of seniors, so there was a sense of being not as strong as we used to be. At the SCVAL meet, someone was calculating points to see if we could win or not…”

— Ashley Guo ('20)


“There was some pressure to keep our undefeated title, but it was never to the point that it wasn’t constructive motivation. I feel really lucky to have been a part of such a successful and kickass team.”

— Ashley Guo (‘20)