League change leaves some teams with little competition


Emma Snyder, Staff Writer

When Bear Creek switched from the TCAL league to the SJAA, many sports teams thought the change would result in a more equal playing field against opponents. Instead some teams have experienced an easy win with little competition.

In the 2013-2014 school year, Bear Creek faced opponents Tokay, Lodi, Lincoln, St. Mary’s and Tracy in the TCAL league. Because sports like football, baseball and basketball struggled against these powerhouses, with most teams unable to post a .500 season, Bear Creek athletics moved to the SJAA in the 2014-2015 school year.

Bear Creek now plays against Edison, McNair, Chavez and Stagg. While some teams’ records have improved, it has come at a cost to other sports teams.

Cross country, water polo, swim, and track have complained about the league change, saying that the quality of competition in their league has now declined.

“I think the league change has benefitted Bear Creek as whole because now we’re winning more titles,” cross country coach Eric Vallecillo said. However, Vallecillo admits that when his athletes go to sections, they are unprepared for the level of competition they face.

“For cross country, we benefit more because it’s a hard sport to keep kids in so when they win, it makes them want to stay more,” Vallecillo said. “When it comes to track, we’re not as determined. The attitude is that we don’t have to train as hard because there’s not much competition.”

Junior cross country and track runner Justin Alexander says that the competition in the SJAA league isn’t anywhere near the TCAL league.

“There’s not hard competition, but the SJAA has been getting better athletes over the past two years,” Alexander said.

Water polo coach Mike Heberle says that he now must put a limit on how many goals his varsity girls team scores during games to show good sportsmanship.

“Teams that generally don’t have strong programs got lumped together while teams who had stronger programs got lumped together, but we’re the exception,” Heberle said. “Without tournaments, our girls wouldn’t have the game skills that they do.”

In softball, there are usually seven innings, but since switching to the SJAA league, Bear Creek ends games short and plays to five innings since the score makes it unreasonable to keep playing.

Senior Isabel Romero, who plays second base, says that the change to the SJAA league has lowered the team’s competitive level.

“When it’s time for playoffs we’re not prepared for the competition we’re bound to face,” Romero said. “I don’t think there’s any competition for the talent and abilities of the team we have.”

Although most athletes agree that it’s nice to win, they also understand that there is no real point of winning if the players don’t get anything out of it. Athletes need competition; it’s what drives them to succeed.