I thought that soccer had made the leap. That it had arrived. That we were well beyond wondering when the beautiful game would worm its way into our collective hearts and become America’s game.
So why are high school teams from North Coast schools folding? Why are so few girls turning out that those who remain are forced to try out for the boys team?
It was the announcement that Rincon Valley Christian High School would not field a girls soccer team this season that got my attention.
The Eagles posted a respectable 13-7 overall record and 10-6 in the North Central League II last fall. With just five seniors on that roster, they should have had a solid team this season.
“I don’t necessarily think it reflects a general like or dislike of soccer for girls, I think it just happened that we had more girls wanting to go out for volleyball,” said Todd Roberts, coach of the boys team that now includes four girls players and starts two of them.
“It has been kind of a struggle for us to field girls teams in the past,” he said.
Tor Benestad, the athletic director at Rincon Valley Christian who coached soccer for years, said that two decades ago, the team would typically have seven or eight soccer players but the rest of the roster would be filled out by interested athletes who’d say, “Oh yeah, I’ll play soccer.”
I had hoped we were past soccer as an afterthought.
Almost 27 million people in the U.S. watched the Women’s World Cup final when the U.S. beat up on Japan 5-2 this summer. It was the most watched soccer game in our nation’s history.