By Tom Story
The 2017 Packer boys varsity soccer team features twenty-five players of which nineteen are seniors; of this group less than half play outside of school which has raised questions over Packer’s no cuts policy.
Boy’s soccer at Packer has had a tumultuous past few seasons, especially when compared to the consistent excellence of the girl’s team. For a number of years, the junior varsity boys team has fielded competitive teams, frequently making the playoffs and competing for championships. The varsity team, however, had struggled before experiencing a resurgence last season, narrowly losing to Friends Seminary in the ACIS finals and advancing to the state wide NYSAIS tournament.
The varsity team last year was led by a strong, experienced and relatively small group of seniors supported by six juniors and four sophomores. Spots were offered to a further two sophomores who instead elected to play for JV. This year tells a different story– there are just seven non-senior players on varsity and no further offers, marking a 41% decrease in spots available for younger players. Bearing in mind the larger size of the Class of 2018, this is understandable, but it does, nevertheless, raise questions about the presence of seniors on varsity soccer. There is an ACIS league rule that requires all seniors to be on varsity, but the no cuts policy, however, is Packer’s own and is not regulated or enforced by ACIS.
“It’s a little complicated when you have a preseason that starts in the middle of August. ” said Head of Athletics, Darrin Fallick. “I would find it difficult to make families cancel or cut short summer vacation, having their kids come for a day or two, and then saying thanks for coming back but you didn’t make the team.”
Whilst this seems like a fair policy, it has caused frustration and dissatisfaction amongst younger students who had hopes of playing varsity soccer but instead had to settle for JV.
“You should be measured on the level of skill you have, not the age of the grade you’re in.” said an anonymous sophomore. “Seniors are about to apply and be rejected by colleges– they should be able to handle being cut from a soccer team. They have to change the system so that you can be cut before we go to Darrow.”
Varsity players themselves have become caught up in the controversy, with many wanting to weigh in on the matter. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it is primarily the junior players who are in support of cuts and space being made for younger players on the squad. Others argue that anyone who wants to play soccer should be able to do so, and that it is through no fault of the seniors that a league rule requires that they be on varsity in spite of their skill level.
“It fundamentally doesn’t make to sense to me.” said Eliot Kimball (‘19), “It doesn’t make sense that seniors who have been playing soccer for one year or seniors who were previously on JV B should get a guaranteed spot on varsity when there are kids on JV who are qualified to be on varsity. Furthermore, it creates a bad dynamic because half of the team is fully invested in the team’s success and the other half is just there for a gym credit.”
“I think that anyone who wants to play soccer should be able to play soccer and be part of a team they may have had dreams of playing for since freshman year.” said Nigel Jaffe (‘18). “Seniors who want to play should play and thus will be on Varsity. I think the team is strong this year and will not suffer as a result [of the seniors].”