Juniors allowed on JV teams

Jasmine Castillo, Opinion Editor

For most athletes, competing in sports their junior year simply means stepping up to the varsity level. However, a change in policy this year will allow juniors to stay at the JV level for an additional year.
“It is my understanding that one of the reasons this came to light was to help preserve the safety of athletes.” Athletic Director Jason Johnson said.
Johnson also explained how the policy was finalized.
“This was voted on by Sac-Joaquin Section Executive Committee,” Johnson said. “It was then brought before each league and voted on by principals and Athletic Directors. Our league passed it unanimously.”
Johnson himself supports the change.
“I do stand by the new ruling,” Johnson said. “I think allowing juniors to participate at the JV level is a move in the right direction.”
Some student-athletes are conflicted over this policy change, saying that it coddles juniors and results in an unfair disadvantage for seniors because they have yet to be permitted to join JV teams. Opponents of the policy change also argue that JV sports were originally created to prepare freshmen and sophomores for joining the varsity team with juniors and seniors.
“Junior year is where you actually start to grow up and start becoming an adult, mentally and physically,” sophomore Peter Lucio said. “While I was getting ready to run at the Lodi meet for cross country, first place for JV was a junior running a 10:24. Why is a junior with that type of speed running for JV when he could be running varsity where he is matched with other people with his own speed?”
As Lucio said, many fear and have first-hand witnessed the inequality towards juniors having more time learning skills that give them a richer advantage to succeed.
“It is unfair because these juniors had their chance to improve their skills,” sophomore Garrett Mandujan said. “The fact that they had their time and the freshmen haven’t and they [juniors] are playing against freshmen is pretty unfair.”
However, others view this change as beneficial because juniors are now permitted to play at their own level and pace rather than joining the faster paced, competitive varsity teams.
“Some people improve at their own rate,” junior Sarah Melendez said. “I think they should just go with the JV policy, instead of just cutting them and not giving them opportunities.”
Other athletes are just content to keep playing regardless of the level.
“I honestly just want to play the sport,” junior Ashley Paratore said. “If I get put onto JV, it’s not going to bother me.”
Although many coaches at Bear Creek say this policy change is positive, some say its crucial to the athletic world.
Johnson said that because the “best runners generally run varsity,” the varsity cross country team has not been affected by the policy change.
JV girls soccer coach Jennifer Larder also said the policy change will positively affect her team.
“I believe it’s a good thing,” Larder said. “I think it will encourage more girls to play soccer.”