It's looking more and more like high school girls soccer players in Nevada will never be a state champion and that is sad.
Clark County schools play boys soccer in the fall and girls soccer in the winter. The Northern 4A plays both boys and girls soccer in the fall. The simple solution is to make the Las Vegas area schools play in the fall.
"Basically, the south never budges," said Douglas coach Fred Schmidt. "They feel people should accommodate them. We can't play in the winter or the spring. We have a climatic situation up here that won't allow it. We couldn't possibly play. Can you imagine playing a game at South Tahoe in the winter? Their softball teams in the spring have to come down the valley just to practice."
Four years ago, Schmidt and Eldorado High boys and girls coach Gerald Pentsil were the two workhorses in trying to remedy the situation. Nothing was remedied.
"They gave us two reasons why they can't switch to the fall," Schmidt said. "They said they don't have enough refs and they don't have enough fields. But another reason they didn't talk about is that some of the coaches down there coach both the boys and girls teams and they don't want to take a pay cut. That's crazy. It should never be about that."
Clark County pays its varsity soccer coaches $2,163 for the season. Of the 22 schools that make up the Sunrise and Sunset Regions, 10 schools have coaches who coach both the boys and girls programs. Depending on how long coaches have been in the school district, they could make up to $534 more per year. But assuming coaches spend about 20 hours a week at practice, games and traveling to and from games during a 10-week season, Clark County coaches make a little over $10/hour.
"It shouldn't be about money. It's not a big salary anyways," Schmidt said. "I don't know any coach up here that just does it for the salary. I mean when you break it down by hour, it's really not that much money for all the hours you put in. You could work at McDonald's and probably make more money."
When the two sides couldn't resolve the issue four years ago, Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association executive director Jerry Hughes said the NIAA would revisit the idea in a three or four years. When Schmidt and Pentsil first talked about working something out, there just 20 4A schools in Clark County and only four or five said they would play in the fall. Now in 2002, it sounds like there are even fewer schools interested in switching to the fall.
"I think Jerry just kind of solicited the idea (this past year) again to the schools in the south and the mood hasn't changed much," Schmidt said. "Everybody thinks it's a dead issue. We'd like to play the southern teams. I'm not saying we'd beat them but we would hold our own. The top teams up here would have no problem playing with the top teams down there. I think a lot of us would like to see a true state champion. Yeah, it's a bummer. But like life, a lot of things are bummers.
"I don't want to really push it anymore. With all the economic troubles right now, I wouldn't want to be the one responsible for trying to form a girls soccer state championship that would cost more money. Plus, the southern coaches have a lot of power on the state board. There's really no reason to push it too much more."
So basically there's no reason to believe any girls soccer player can ever be a state champion.
Here's a quick look at boys soccer in the Sunset and Sunrise Regions as they begin their regional tournaments today. The top eight teams in each region qualified for the postseason.
In the Sunset Region, which the Northern 4A champion will play in the state semifinals, Bishop Gorman won the Southwest Division with a 10-0 league record and a 16-0 overall record. The Gaels, who were the state runner up a year ago, were followed by Durango (7-3 league), Clark (5-5) and Bonanza (4-4). In the Northwest Division, Centennial was the regular season champs with an 8-0 league record. Palo Verde (6-2), Cimarron (3-5) and Cheyenne (3-5) finished behind the Bulldogs. The Sunset Region's top two seeds advance the state tournament.
In the Sunrise Region, Southern Nevada Vocational Technical Center (Vo-Tech) won the Southeast Division with an 8-0 record. The Roadrunners were followed by Green Valley (7-1), which advanced to the state semifinals last year, Coronado (6-2) and Silverado (4-5).
In the Northeast Division, Las Vegas won the league with a 9-0 record. The Wildcats have a 16-0 overall record. They were followed by defending state champion Chaparral (6-3), Eldorado (4-4) and Desert Pines (3-5). Only the Sunrise Region's tournament champion qualifies for the state tournament.
Jeremy Evans is a Nevada Appeal sportswriter.