Girls’ soccer coach George Champayne said he may not be returning to Country Day next year.
Of course, he said the same thing last year.
“Its been a rumor for 18 years, and this year is nothing different,” athletic director Matt Vargo said.
But the girls’ soccer season was very different this year.
“When I started out here, I had 32 girls come out for the team,” Champayne said.
“We were a real powerhouse—we could compete with Rocklin (High School) and other big schools. But now we’re struggling against small schools.”
In 2012 the team was eliminated in the playoffs when only 10 players showed up for the playoff game. Many girls stayed home because the game was the night before the AP U.S. History exam.
“After that, I thought that my career at Country Day should be over,” Champayne said.
“I had offers from El Camino (High School) and St. Francis (High School) to coach there, but I stuck with Country Day to give it one more push.”
But this season proved to be even more of a disappointment than the last, he said.
“This year was one of the roughest in my time at Country Day,” Champayne said.
The team lacked effort and only a few girls showed up to practices regularly.
The girls effort was reflected by their record. They finished the year with an over all record of 3-6, and did not make it to the playoffs.
“My sophomore year there was a lot of spirit; we were a cohesive unit,” senior Madeleine Wright said.
“You could say ‘I’m on the soccer team,’ and there would be a sense of identity in that. This year people completely lost that sense of unity and identity.”
But despite the lack of commitment, Champayne admits that he would have a hard time leaving. “I would hate to leave the Country Day family—getting to know all the families is a huge plus,” Champayne said.
“Now I have the choice to stay and coach eight girls or take over a powerhouse school. From a professional standpoint, this decision would be easy—take the powerhouse school.
“But I have made so many connections here that I can’t just leave without thinking about it twice.”
And his players feel the connection too, even those who chose to quit the team this year.
“He was the reason I came back to play my sophomore and junior year,” senior Alison Walter said.
But Walter did not play this season because of her commitment to row for UC Berkeley next year.
And she wasn’t the only senior not to play. Natalie Polan and Jianna Gudebski, both of whom had been on the team for three years, chose not to return either.
However, Champayne said he understands the seniors’ decisions.
“I always encourage my players to do what they want. If they want to pursue academics or drama, I want them to do that,” Champayne said.
“And I’m obligated to share practice time with track and other after-school activities. So it’s hard to practice well.”
But without Champayne many believe that there might not even be a team next year.
In fact, according to senior Kelsi Thomas, near the end of the season, Champayne took her and another player aside to talk about just that.
“Right now I’m making the decision whether I want to come back to a team of eight, but as a coach I need more than that,” Champayne said.
“If I had a roster of 21, then I would stay. And when you enjoy the job and the people you work with, you never want to leave. But sometimes you need to know when to move on.”