Inside the women’s track and field locker room is a jumble of approximately 375 left shoes and 375 right shoes, 300 T-shirts, 160 pairs of shorts, 70 towels, 50 bottles of shampoo, and 69 women. The maintenance staff does not vacuum the floor because there is no floor. Just clothes. In the past, captains would return three days early from breaks to clean it. This year, Brad Hunt, the women’s cross country coach, climbed atop the lockers to clear the dust off; he got only halfway around before the vacuum cleaner clogged up.
And yet, “the locker room is where you form a team,” as longtime coach Peter Farrell, who retired last year, put it. It is a liminal space between school and practice where we are not, for once, striving. In the space of not-yet-readiness, the uninhibited woman emerges. The locker room might be your only chance to see some women without makeup on. There is little space to fake it in the locker room, to be anyone but yourself, baggage included.
This is where we get ourselves ready. Years ago, players hung photographs of Princeton women who had scored in the Heps — the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships — on the walls above the lockers. For some reason, that practice had fallen by the wayside. This year, we started taping our favorite photos of ourselves competing to the walls. We were sizing ourselves up to the women who came before, wondering who we could become.
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