After two years of playing in torrential rain storms and 50 mph gusts of wind througout winter, the coed soccer team’s season has been moved back to the fall.
According to athletic director Matt Vargo, the boys’ soccer season was originally changed from fall to winter because a large portion of California schools play in the winter, and the state wanted to have an all-state championship during the winter season.
Last season, there were two different championships, one for northern California, which had the majority of its schools playing in fall, and one for the southern California, which had the majority of its schools playing in winter. However, this winter there will be a statewide championship, according to Vargo.
“Since we moved back to the fall, we are unable to participate in a (winter) state championship game,” Vargo said.
However, he said that getting to states is difficult for any small school and that the team would have an even smaller chance of winning because there is no state title for D7, the division that Country Day plays in.
“They actually only have up to a D5 championship,” Vargo said. “So to get through (northern California championships and also) play up two divisions would be very tough.”
The switch to winter was not received well by many of the schools and coaches who made the change, according to Vargo.
One of the major problems for Country Day was the conflict that winter soccer had with other sports, like basketball.
Vargo said that although bigger schools would run into this same problem in the fall because of football, Country Day doesn’t have that problem, as it has no football team.
Making the transition back was not a simple process, according to Vargo. It took collaboration with the whole CIF Sac-Joaquin Section, which includes around 200 schools.
“A lot of schools weren’t happy with soccer in the winter, so we lobbied enough votes amongst all the leagues in our section meeting to have a vote on it,” Vargo said.
“We voted to allow schools to choose to either go back to the fall or stay in the winter.”
He added that the soccer team has directly benefited now that the season has been switched back.
“(For example, junior) Aaron Graves chose basketball in the past but is playing soccer this year,” Vargo said.
Vargo also noted that in the past two years, many of Country Day’s former athletes had to choose between the winter sports, so this change would have been significant to them if it had been made earlier.
“Aidan Cunningham, (’17), would have played basketball. Jesus Galindo, (’17), would have played soccer,” Vargo said.
However, the team faces a similar problem this year because it is coed, which it became last year.
Vargo said that if there were a girls’ team this year, it would have been in the spring. However, the team remained coed because of the concern of not having enough female players to fill a whole team.
“Their opportunity to play needs to be now,” Vargo said. “Because if we waited, and there weren’t enough girls, then someone like (senior) Abby LaComb wouldn’t get the chance to play in her last year.”
Due to the decision to keep the team coed, this is the first season that girls are playing in fall, causing conflicts for volleyball players.
“Volleyball is the only sport (we lost players to),” Vargo said.
There are four girls playing on the soccer team, according to Vargo.
“I didn’t want to poach anyone from volleyball,” Vargo said. “The girls could choose, and most of them chose volleyball.”
Senior Lia Kaufman is one of the girls who wasn’t able to be on the soccer team this year.
However, Kaufman said that she is not upset about it because she’s already playing soccer outside of school.
“Every time I played soccer at school, I was playing club as well,” Kaufman said. “So school soccer was more just cross-training for me.”
Due to this, she said that the change hasn’t affected her in any major way.
“I think the team is still strong and is playing really well and having fun,” Kaufman said.
According to Vargo, another big advantage of fall soccer is the significantly better weather.
LaComb agreed, saying that playing in the winter was very cold and rainy and that games would often get cancelled because of weather conditions.
“Right now it’s kind of hot, which is not super fun,” LaComb said. “But as it cools down, it will get better.”
Vargo said that another benefit of having the games in the fall is that they can be held later in the day because it stays light outside for longer.
This keeps the players from missing too much school and allows more parents to attend games.
Senior Nate Jakobs agreed that later games are “a huge bonus.”
“Now we only miss, at most, one class for a game,” Jakobs said.
“In the past we have had to miss two. So it’s a big plus.”
According to Vargo, not all the leagues made the same decision.
“A lot of the big schools (like Jesuit High School) didn’t go back to the fall,” Vargo said.
According to Vargo, this was due to a fear that few teams would make the change, so those who did would not have enough competitors.
“I think that if a couple would have gone, the dominos would have fallen,” he said.
In the end, three small-school leagues in the section, including Country Day’s league, had most of their schools go to fall, Vargo said.
However, because some teams in the league did not make the switch, the schools that Country Day will be playing this year have changed.
For example, Vargo said that Buckingham Charter School, which used to be one of the Cavs’ main competitors, chose to stay in the winter.
The change back to fall also allowed some schools to form new soccer teams because of the increase in available players, according to Vargo.
“Some leagues had a bunch of schools drop (when soccer moved to winter) because they couldn’t field their teams,” he said.
“But now they can.”
According to Vargo, this increase in participating schools allowed leagues who previously didn’t have enough teams to compete to now re-open their soccer programs, so teams that had temporarily joined Country Day’s league are now returning to their own.
Another adjustment of the fall season was starting practice before school began, Vargo said.
“We started a little slow because people were still on vacation during our summer practices,” he said.
But despite the downsides, junior Garrett Shonkwiler said he liked summer practices.
“Starting soccer at the end of the summer was a good way of easing myself into school,” he said.
And according to Jakobs, the team is still looking to do well this year despite all the changes.
“We have a lot of good players, and if we put it all together, we could make a run for (championships),” Jakobs said.
“It would be nice to have the players we lost, but we are playing well as it is.”
—By Anna Frankel