Suiting Up Next Season

It’s the question that girls suiting up for both soccer and field hockey want answered.  At the start of the fall sport season next year, will Penn Manor junior, Katie Breneman, be putting on a soccer jersey or a field hockey jersey?

Yet this is just one of the problems that have emerged from the PIAA’s decision to move the girls’ soccer season from spring to the fall.  Fortunately for many seniors, they will not have to make the decision before they graduate.  Soccer will be moving to fall but the move has been postponed until 2012.

“It puts them on equal turf,” Penn Manor Athletic Director, Jeff Roth, who commented on this recent decision.

While many Susquehanna Valley schools were playing their girls’ soccer in the spring season, the remaining schools were playing in the fall. But it won’t be like this in two years, thanks to the 22-7 PIAA ruling that brought this “split-season play” to an end.

In 2005,  four girls from three different high schools represented by the Women’s Law Project filed Federal Civil Lawsuits against the PIAA claiming that the two different seasons (fall and spring) as well as not having a unified statewide championship placed them at a disadvantage.

Coaches were able to vote in the decision, where eleven voted in favor of the change in season, and eleven voted against the move.  Two coaches however did not vote; one of them being Penn Manor head soccer coach, William Zapata.

Zapata claims that those who voted were under the impression that this move would not be taking place until the 2012 season, which would provide two years for students to prep for the change, not the 2011 season, only allowing one season’s notice.

Now, the additional voting session has pushed back the move until 2012 season.

Eventually, however, these questions will have to be answered: where will these games take place and where will officials be found to manage those additional fall season games?

“We don’t have the fields to support all the fall sports,” said Roth, and Penn Manor is a decent sized school that was placed in the middle of the problem.

Commenting on the situation of a crowded fieldhouse that will “make it a nightmare, but we will just have to deal with it,” said Coach Zapata.

Fall sports teams including football, boys’ soccer, girls’ soccer, and field hockey will all be competing for access to the fields, leaving those fields all to the lacrosse teams in the spring.

According to Roth, the varsity and junior-varsity soccer teams would have to play back-to-back games. With afternoon games, the varsity games would take place first, most likely around 4:00, and the junior-varsity game to follow at 5:30. For a night game, the junior-varsity game would be played first, probably at 5:30, with the varsity game to begin at 7:00.

And for all those fans of the girl kickers on the football team, this year may be the only year that it takes place.  With soccer in the fall, the girls would not be able to kick for both the soccer team and the football team.

But probably the biggest issue coming from this decision is that now placed on the girls who play in were used to playing both field hockey and soccer, or both volleyball and soccer.  They will now have to choose just one sport.

However, girls wanting to play both soccer and track and field, or soccer and lacrosse will now be able to.

Breneman is currently a junior at Penn Manor and would have been forced to choose between playing soccer or field hockey.

“It’s a bummer,” Breneman added.

She also believes that both sports teams will go very far during her senior year.  However, if she had to make the choice Brenneman said she would be putting on the field hockey jersey come next fall.

“You can go farther in field hockey.”

So is the decision for the overall good?  The answer to that question will not become evident until the 2012 season, when all the fall sports take the field.

By: Tyler Barnett