CIF moves soccer to winter season

Graschelle Hipolito, Editor-in-Chief

The winter sports season typically signals basketball games and wrestling matches; however, two additional sports will be added next school year: men’s and women’s soccer.

Currently, men’s soccer is played in the fall and women’s in the spring.  Last spring, the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Board of Managers voted to approve the change.  Southern California high schools play men’s and women’s soccer in the winter; now, both northern and southern California will play at the same time of year to allow for a state championship.

“Moving both teams to the winter seems like it will create conflicts,” senior varsity soccer player Ryan Cordova said.  “I’m sure [the teams] can work to adjust to it, but it’s not what we’re used to.”

Women’s soccer was initially played in the winter until it was moved to the spring season in the 2001-2002 school year.  However, after over a decade, returning to the winter season may prove to be a difficult adjustment.

“Honestly, I have not heard of very many players or coaches that are happy with the switch,” Bear Creek women’s soccer coach Jeff Pappas said.  “In fact, last year at our league meeting all but one coach voted to not go to winter.”

Pappas said that coaches voted against the change for several reasons; the weather, field conditions, field usage, and coaching conflicts all created an opposition to soccer moving to the winter.

The move is deemed especially unfavorable to soccer players who participate in current winter sports.

“The only plus I see is that women soccer players will get the opportunity to run track,” Papas said.  “A big minus is that now girls that play both basketball, cheer, and wrestling will have to decide what sport they will do.”

Another major issue about moving soccer to the winter is the weather conditions; in the past few years, the grass field’s poor conditions posed a potential threat to the safety of soccer players during practices and games.  Fortunately, Bear Creek’s turf field eliminates the potential risk of injury from uneven or muddy grass fields, particularly common in winter months.

Finding a reasonable compromise for practice times between men and women’s soccer also raises concerns.  A team may have to hold practices immediately after school before the other team’s game or practice at night.

I have not heard of very many players or coaches happy with the switch. All but one coach voted to not go to winter.”

— Jeff Pappas, women's soccer coach

“Our league decided on having games on the same day,” Bear Creek’s men’s soccer coach Carlos Rivas said.  “When men’s [soccer] is away, women’s would play at home and vice versa.”

Bear Creek does not stand alone in schools affected by the season move.  Edison High School, also in the SJAA, has only one coach for both men and women’s soccer, so they will have to recruit a new coach to take over one of the teams.

Referees are also at a shortage for next year’s winter sports; the sports department will now have to double their referee pool in order to cover soccer games on the same day.  According to Pappas, JV games may not even have referees for their games due to the shortage.

“Referees are out there to enforce the rules of game which in turn helps keep players safe on the field; a lack of referees can guarantee a major increase in injuries,” Pappas said.  “It also changes the dynamics of the game.”

Even with the anticipated obstacles, both men and women’s soccer hope to find a way to adjust accordingly and aim for further success next season.

“We have talked and we feel there will not be a problem working together,” Rivas said.  “We are all one big team.”