As the boys’ flag football team, Hwarang is easily one of the most well-known sports teams at HAFS. Following this long-time tradition of flag football at HAFS is Wonhwa, an up-and-coming sports team of girls’ flag football, established only this year.
Wonhwa originally started off as Hwarang Girls, acknowledging its ties to the boys’ team in that they play the same sport. But eventually, a better name was found—Wonhwa. As the forerunner to the Hwarang of the Shilla dynasty, Wonhwa was similar to Hwarang but included young women in its recruitment, making it the female equivalent of Hwarang. In terms of definition, a better name could not have been found.
Wonhwa still has a long way to go in terms of tradition, but some fundamentals have been laid out as thus: team logo, uniform, captain and vice captain, and practice time. The captain of Wonhwa is Hojung Lim, a second grader of the Humanities Course. She plays the position of wide receiver and is a versatile sportswoman, participating in other sports teams such as MVP, the girl’s basketball team. The vice captain is Seeha Park, a first grader of the International Course. She helps the captain with administrative matters, such as checking attendance during practice and retrieving footballs from the gym to the World Plaza, where Wonhwa meets every day at lunchtime to practice.
Besides lunchtime practice, Wonhwa utilizes Wednesday and Thursday evenings to practice. Most members do not practice on both nights—they are assigned either Wednesday or Thursday to practice depending on their positions, as games cannot proceed without anyone in a particular position. During practice, Wonhwa works on offensive tactics by simulating play, throwing-receiving sequences between the quarterbacks and receivers, and more recently, engaging in core stamina training to improve endurance and agility on the field. Mr. Ki-bo Lee, the school’s Physical Education teacher who oversees Wonhwa, has been emphasizing the importance of learning to move on the field. Without it, other techniques such as offensive plans would be rendered useless.
Wonhwa’s team logo was designed by Hayoon Jang, a second grader of the Humanities Course. The Wonhwa uniform features the logo on one sleeve and the HAFS logo on the other. It was wearing this uniform that Wonhwa members marched out to Namsa Middle School to participate in their very first competition. Wonhwa competed in four matches with Ewoo Middle School, CNSA(Chungnam Samsung Academy)’s sophomores, Ewoo High School, and CNSA’s freshmen, respectively. Wonhwa lost all four matches, although the match with CNSA’s freshmen was a close, bitter battle.
Wonhwa was deeply humbled by the results. One shortcoming was evading defense. As Wonhwa does not have flags of their own yet, the members were not able to practice maneuvering their bodies as to evade the enemy, who would naturally try to grab the flags as Wonhwa tried to gain yards with their offensive strategies. “We had offensive strategies, and we moved according to the strategies just as we had trained, but as soon as we got the ball from the quarterback, defense would be swarming to take us out,” a member says. Wonhwa was also somewhat lacking in the offensive department. “All the other teams were feinting, and it really threw us off both physically and mentally. It was play we’d never seen before, so we weren’t prepared to defend effectively. And we felt inadequate because we’d never practiced feints before,” another member commented.
The boys’ team also participated in the competition and had considerably better results, only losing to Ewoo High School’s team. This achievement is notable because Hwarang was split into the freshmen team and the sophomore team. The freshmen, although relatively new to the sport, were able to attain good results even when competing against players of longer experience. They were showered with accolades during the awards ceremony. Wonhwa’s captain Hojung Lee was also honored individually for her leadership and diligent play.
The next competition will be in July, and Wonhwa will meet CNSA for a second round. Wonhwa is determined not to repeat the same mistakes again. “I remember being so desperate to make it over the half line that I completely ignored all the training and started passing to whoever was available. That didn’t work. We have to make sure it doesn’t come to that situation. We need to learn feinting tactics and we need to learn to protect our flags from being ripped off by the opposition,” a quarterback remarked. Team members echoed their sentiments. “We could’ve won the last game against the CNSA freshmen. Next time we’re going to win,” another player added.
While Wonhwa is currently classified as an independent school club and designated to practice during the second period of study hall, starting this summer, either a three-day intensive camp or an Elective Track course will be established, furthering Wonhwa’s ever-growing presence in the HAFS sports scene. Hopefully, during the second semester, an Elective Track course will be established permanently so that Wonhwa members have more regular practice times to hone their abilities.
And this article on Wonhwa will end with a rousing chant of Wonhwa’s official cheer, wishing them the best for competitions to come: Wonhwa, Wonhwa, Wonhwa! Wanna bet? We’re gonna win! No, chicks are gonna win!
BY JungMin Bae ‘19