Dream Teams

Women's squads from around the city

Team sports represents an ideal of camaraderie and selflessness in a common cause, a subservience of the one to the many; in turn the individual always has someone watching her back. That's what athletics is about— that and perseverance, pride, pain, and the satisfaction that comes from being linked to other people. For women, those things were not always high priorities. But in the nearly 30 years since Title IX, a lot has changed. These women's teams— from all corners of New York City— represent the best principles behind the recreational activities we love, which sometimes become the stuff we need to live.


Harlem Honeys
Synchronized Swimming

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Divas masquerading as senior citizen synchronized swimmers, the Harlem Honeys took up swimming after they retired, some on the recommendation of their doctors, some because it beats "sitting around doing nothing." Defending champs of the citywide seniors swim competition (three years in a row), they prove age really is just a state of mind.

Photograph by Regina Monfort


Brooklyn Blades
Ice Hockey

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Though the sport tends to be dominated by slap-happy toothless wonders, some women are jumping into the rink. This brisk Sunday morning at Chelsea Piers' Skyrink, the Brooklyn Blades took on a collection of high school­aged skaters. The final score was no matter as this squad emphasizes unity over victory. The investment bankers, Ph.D.s, attorneys, and med students who make up the Blades all look the same when they're in pads, after all.

Photograph by Regina Monfort


Columbia/Barnard
Women's Crew

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"We get our share of dead bodies, but that's to be expected in a city of eight million," says Mike Zimmer, the coach of the Columbia/Barnard Women's Crew team. Such are the hazards when your playing field is where the Hudson River and Harlem River converge. This city team has yet to find its winning rhythm, but Zimmer is enthusiastic about its prospects. "It's one of the few sports you can still learn in college and compete at a high level." He's hoping the raw talent on this team will emerge within a couple of seasons.

Photograph by Nina Roberts


Pumpkins
Volleyball

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Titans of the New York Urban Professionals Volleyball League, the Pumpkins have overcome injuries, pregnancies, and advancing age through both strong leadership (cops captain the team) and shared responsibility. Their international roster of players also gives them an edge— a list of foreign terms serves as their code for particular plays. So duck when you hear "bishito," because that means a ball is about to smash you in the face.

Photograph by Regina Monfort


NY Islanders
Field Hockey

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Field hockey is the world's second largest spectator sport— and is played by both men and women. In the States, women own the game. Locally, the New York Islanders Field Hockey Association gathers players who used to compete on clubs in their native Trinidad, Barbados, and Jamaica. They're a tightly woven group, and it shows on the scoreboard— games usually end in the win column.

Photograph by Nina Roberts


NY Primetime
Basketball

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Three-time defending champs of the West 4th Street Summer Classic, Primetime features many former collegiate All-Americans and ABLers. The Primetime players don't necessarily check their egos at the court's gate— they hammed it up throughout our shoot— but they got the game, and the attitude, to back them up. They'll need that complete package as they head out this spring to face national competition on the ProAm circuit.

Photograph by Sylvia Otte


Sutton
Gymnastics Team

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Discipline infuses every aspect of a gymnast's life, so much so that little girls learn to grow up fast. Tiffany Rivera, for instance— the leader of the Sutton Gymnastics Team— maintains a steady regimen in order to fit in the 19 hours of activity she averages each day. At 14, she's the old lady on the team, but her age translates into experience— she competes at level nine, just shy of elite. A product of Sutton's scholarship program with the NYC Housing Authority, Rivera embodies the determination that is emblematic of her team. "They do well in school and tend to be perfectionists," says coach Jack Smith of his athletes.

Photograph by Sylvia Otte


Ambush
Ultimate Frisbee

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A standout team in the Ultimate Players Association— the sport's governing body— Ambush recently proved their worth once again by taking a major tournament in Virginia. Back on their home turf in Prospect Park, members of the squad prove their dedication to the grueling sport on a regular basis. Says Bronwyn Ryan, team captain and former freestyle world champion before Ultimate won her over 14 years ago, "It's a real rat race here in New York— hard to get a group of women together with a common goal, but these people suck it up."

Photograph by Sylvia Otte


DDDD
Double Dutch

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They say the best athletes are the ones who make it look effortless. They're talking about DDDD (the Dynamic Diplomats of Double Dutch)— or any one of the other couple of hundred girls who sweat it out between the ropes for one of the city's countless teams. This ain't no sport for looking pretty. Whether it's the speed trials or the fusion routines or any other move, double dutch is all about getting it right as you race the clock. —Frank Ruscitti

Photograph by Nina Roberts

 
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