Soccer Moved to Winter Season

By Sonja Hutson and Sonja Hutson

The Marin County Athletic League (MCAL) has decided to move boys’ and girls’ soccer from the fall and spring seasons, respectively, to the winter season. The change will occur no earlier than the 2014-2015 school year, and will most likely take place in the 2015-2016 school year, according to Superintendent Laurie Kimbrel. The decision was reached through a 7-3 vote by all MCAL principals at an MCAL meeting on March 7.

MCAL is one of only three leagues in the state to play soccer in the spring, and the lack of postseason competition (such as a regional or state championship) was a contributing factor to the decision. The new placement will allow players the chance to play a larger range of schools at a regional or state level.

“It will be fun to play at a higher level of soccer,” junior soccer player Gaby Salas said.

In addition to being “the odd district out,” school board member Bob Walter said, the issue of gender equity came into play in the decision. The TUHSD Athletic Board, who advised the principals on this change, believes that the current placement of girls’ soccer as a spring sport forces many women to choose between soccer and lacrosse, as there is often an overlap of players. Moreover, few sports options for women exist in the winter. According to Title IX, if MCAL wishes to move girls’ soccer, it must also move boys’ soccer.

Some, however, disagree with the solution. “I think it is a bigger issue to make girls pick between basketball and soccer. Lacrosse is a fairly new sport, but basketball and soccer are so common with boys and girls that this change is harder and more complicated than keeping it in the spring,” sophomore Bella Amyx said. “This whole change is unpractical and unnecessary.” Amyx suggested that those who wish to play soccer and basketball should be allowed to participate in both.

The new placement may also cause conflict with attendance of games. “It will cause a lack of fans at each event,” sophomore Tyler Barbee said.

In addition to the conflict with basketball, another concern has arisen. Due to the shortened amount of daylight in the winter and the lack of lights for the fields, it is unclear if the games and practices will be able to end before sunset.

‘“It presents some challenges, there’s no question. And I would love nothing more than to have lights but that’s just not going to happen,” Walter said at a Board meeting. According to Walter, early release on one day per week may solve the problem, allowing the games and practices to start, and therefore finish, earlier. The Board justified early release because many other sports use the same mechanism to attend their games or matches.

Moving forward, the principals will reconvene to discuss the issues involved and “firm up the timeline,” according to Kimbrel.