Football has their jerseys, tennis has their skirts, and water polo has a luau.
“We got normal water polo team shirts, and someone thought we needed even more team spirit, something even flashier than just a regular shirt,” said water polo team captain senior Joseph Chan.
The Piedmont-colored Hawaiian shirts quickly grew into game day tradition.
“We’ve always gotten shirts and sweatshirts and whatnot, but we were talking during practice about getting Hawaiian shirts, kind of as a joke,” sophomore Quinn Porter said. “But they were cheap, so we ordered them.”
The locker room talk became a team bonding experience.
“It started with a great idea, they’re comfortable, they’re a little bit casual, but still noticeable, and of course its purple for team spirit,” Chan said.
Water polo coach John Savage sees the shirts as an opportunity to raise awareness of the team and their sport.
“It’s one thing to see someone wearing a standard t-shirt, but Hawaiian shirts make us stand out even more,” Savage said. “There are teams without a lot of team swag, and others have their shirt and tie, or their jerseys which they wear or give out to others to wear, but obviously we can’t come to school in a Speedo, and most kids would not want to wear the uncomfortable cap around.”
Incidentally, the water polo team bought shirts identical to one that math teacher Doyle O’Regan had purchased the previous year.
“I went onto an online outfitter, thought I should get a purple and white one for school, so that’s what I did,” O’Regan said. “Then there was one day at school where I saw a couple guys wearing the shirt, so I asked myself ‘What’s this?’”
In previous years, students have dressed as O’Regan and worn Hawaiian shirts on Halloween, but never for team spirit.
“There was a day where I wore it the day after them, so I went up to Savage and asked if I was too late to make the team bus,” O’Regan said.
“There was a day where I was walking down the hallway, and [some water polo players] said good-looking shirt, and I just said good-looking shirt back,” O’Regan said.
The distinctive Hawaiian shirt has its pros and cons.
“There’s a time and place for everything, casual Friday you can dress down a bit but still look professional, so the Hawaiian shirt is a little more recognized,” Savage said. “Hopefully it’ll spark some interest from kids who might not otherwise consider water polo. I take function over form, so if it gets the job done, I don’t care how it looks.”
It’s up to the players if they want to bring the Hawaiian shirts to swimming in the spring, or keep up the tradition and wear them next year, Savage said.