Team folds despite hope, goals

Dwindling interest dooms season before it started

By Robert Clinton, Sports Editor

Despite contrary reports that the women’s soccer team was on the path to resurgence after purging its former coaching staff and injecting Brittany Castillo into the vacancy, surprisingly, the 2016 season has also been scrubbed due to substandard participation.

Before the season started, Castillo, had an adequate number of players sign up for the program and she bolstered those numbers after setting up a booth in the Campus Center Plaza for All Comet Day to recruit women who were new to the campus.

“(Canceling the season) was a safety issue. We didn’t want to go out there with just enough players to field a team and put our players at risk of injury,” Castillo said. “It’s part of the rebuilding process. Even though there will be no games this season I still treat this like more than just sports activity class. We still prepare and practice like a team.”

The team still holds multiple practices per week and though dedicated players remain, there simply are not enough players to field a California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) regulation match.

Per CCCAA rules regarding soccer in Bylaw 4 section 4.2.9, all games must begin with 11 players but play may continue with only seven players on the field.

In certain cases, the referee can begin a match with a minimum of seven players, however, planning a season with minimal players is a recipe for disaster.

Initially, the team had adequate numbers to instill hope in Comet fans who felt cheated when the program abandoned the season in 2015. But as the season grew near, commitment began to fade.

Castillo lost four players at once due to family obligations, unsympathetic employers and a host of other life issues that plague athletes at the community college level.

For most of the players, the situation was just a disappointment.

“It broke my heart because I was really inspired and ready to go all in and now I don’t get to play,” freshman midfielder Martha De Jesus Espinoza Castillo said. “We didn’t have enough players and coach (Castillo) really tried to reach out to as many of the local area players as she could to complete the team.”

Athletic Director John Wade points to a growing trend in Bay Valley Conference women’s sports that shows participation numbers dwindling across a range of athletic activities.

Last year, Napa Valley College and Merritt College had to forfeit their women’s basketball seasons and this year the College of Marin and the College of Alameda had to forgo their women’s volleyball seasons.

“I don’t want to play some of the games, I want to play all of them. But we have to have enough players to start the season,” Wade said.

Some of the remaining players came later in the process so even if there were enough bodies to field a women’s soccer team, some of their Form 1 applications were still being checked at the start of the season to verify CCCAA eligibility.

A Form 1 is a student eligibility report submitted for all athletes to verify academic eligibility.

CCC’s athletic department does not have a full-time employee designated to ensuring student-athletes’ academic schedules align with the athletic calendar.

Each student-athlete is mandated to be enrolled in 12 units of instruction with nine of those units designated toward associate degree requirements, transferable classes or major preparation courses consistent with the student’s educational plan before eligibility can be granted.

To compound problems, Castillo was hired late in the summer and some of the women joined the team after the fall semester already started. This contributed to the lack of continuity between the academic and athletic aspects of the team.

Although expectations were high, fans of Comet women’s soccer will have to wait until next year to see a Castillo coached team take the field.