Championship opportunity ripped away


Denis Perez / The Advocate

Mariner goalkeeper Colin Sneddon clears the ball from his goal area. Sneddon was scored on 5 times during Contra Costa College’s 5-1 win against College of Marin in the Soccer Field on Tuesday.

By Efrain Valdez, Sports Editor

Last month’s cancellation of the men’s soccer team match against Merritt College — not just once but twice — which would have decided the Bay Valley Conference champion, has prompted action from Contra Costa College soccer team leaders.
In an email sent to CCC Athletic Director John Wade on Nov. 20, the student-athletes of the soccer team voiced their concerns about how the situation was handled.
Wade defended the decision not to play because of the Air Quality Index (AQI) indicating air conditions on Friday, Nov. 9 and Monday, Nov. 12, were not safe enough for the game to be played.
“For me, it is uncomfortable (to talk about), but it could be worse. It’s better than having someone get hurt if the game was played,” Wade said.
Napa Valley College, which was mathematically eliminated before the cancellation of the CCC-Merritt game, ended up as BVC champions.
The Storm beat Mendocino College on the same day the Comets were slated to play the Thunderbirds, Nov. 12.
The team members noted in the email that they understood the concerns about the air quality but were upset that the team was denied an opportunity to become champions.
The email also stated, “Currently, our soccer team is upset and hurt because we feel we were treated unfairly.”
The email also addressed the fact that other teams around Northern California played in similar or worse conditions on the days that CCC and Merritt were scheduled to play.
“While we appreciate the concern for our health, other teams played in similar or worse conditions,” the email read.
Wade said, “I didn’t think that the air quality was that bad on Friday (Nov. 9), so I thought, let’s try to play this game. Then, I was told about the air quality being over the (acceptable) index and honestly, I had never heard about the index (AQI) until then.”
Wade responded to the players email by saying that safety for everybody involved has to be “first and foremost” and that the decision was an agonizing one.
Comet defender Raul Garcia said, “I was happy that he took the time to read the letter that my teammates and I put together, however, I do wish he could have gone more in detail.”
Garcia said that he understands that he (Wade) was doing his job by trying to keep everyone safe, but that he believes pushing the game back was not the best decision.
“He (Wade) explained his actions and provided a reason why those actions were taken and I can’t argue against it,” Comet goalkeeper Salvador Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez also said that smoke was not as serious as they made it seem.
“I felt like our game could have easily been played under those conditions, such as the Napa/Mendocino game, in which I haven’t heard any negative effects occurring (to any of those athletes),” he said.
Wade said the Veterans Day holiday weekend complicated any chance of him finding another facility for the game.
“On Monday, it was a holiday for us and for everyone else. I wanted to see if I could move the game, but from Friday to Monday I couldn’t even find somebody to tell me if we could get the game on their field,” Wade said.
The players said they all think that the situation could have been handled in a more organized manner if everyone involved in the decision had known the playoff implications of that game.
“I definitely feel like this situation could have been handled better if they had been aware that our game had the possibility of not being played,” Rodriguez said.
“Considering the impact that the game had on our league placement and playoff chances, there should have been an arrangement to play the game at a better location,” he said.
Wade said that he would have much rather played the game on Friday to get it over with, but according to the CCCAA air quality chart, it was determined that the air was not safe.
“I really do think that this was a learning opportunity for our college and I do hope they handle a situation like this better if it were to happen again,” Garcia said.