The Chaos of SCVAL Soccer Girls


Izzy Tolosa

Wilcox Girls Varsity Soccer Team after defeating Del Mar 7-0.

Izzy Tolosa

As the winter sports season commences, many basketball, soccer, and wrestling players train to make it on their high school teams. Many club soccer players are excited to go back and enjoy their high school soccer season. Several girls that play on a club team attended their league’s Girls Academy Winter Showcase, a 4-day tournament, in attempts to showcase their skills to college coaches and succeed at their dream of playing college soccer. However, their attendance at this showcase conflicted with a SCVAL rule. Many girls affected by this rule are now unable to play high school soccer and represent their school.

On the morning of January 19, 2023, the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League held a board meeting in regard to the girls who were being affected by the rule. By the end of the meeting, the SCVAL Board rejected the motion to change the regulation that forbids girls who play club soccer from participating in their high school sport if the seasons interfere with one another. Two Wilcox High School girls players and nine Palo Alto High School players were affected by this rule. 

The eligibility rule for SCVAL athletes states that “All Winter Athletes must have stopped participation in contests for a team outside of the school, in the same sport, by the Monday following Thanksgiving, if the player is to participate on the high school team.” This rule was created in 2012 which prevented students from performing in both high school and club sports during the same time period. Once their school winter sports season had started, players were no longer allowed to attend club games or practices. 

The Girls Academy Winter Showcase that these specific players attended was held in Arizona between December 1 and 4. Due to the SCVAL rule, the girls were forced to make the hard decision of attending a showcase that would help them gain recognition from their favorite college coaches, or miss out on a memorable high school season. According to Paly Voice, Mei-Phuong Tran stated, “These rules are asking 16-year-olds to make the decision between playing high school soccer and making a decision for college. It’s not fair because the school asks the student to be involved in a school activity and also to train or to prepare for college. If that’s the case, why can’t you work to put those two together to make it easier for them to do both instead of either this or that?”

College showcases are key events to being scouted if a player desires to continue their athletic and educational career in college. They are vital for a player to get the chance to showcase their skills. Due to this, many of the girls unable to play are questioning why the high school rule doesn’t allow them to attend this college showcase when it is towards educational purposes and a desire to thrive after high school. 

After asking senior Sofia Gentry how she feels about missing out on her senior season, she explains, “I feel deeply saddened that I do not have the opportunity to play in my final high school season of soccer. I have felt unheard and ignored going through the process of SCVAL denying us the ability to play high school soccer.” Gentry is one of the Wilcox soccer girls affected by this rule, and she has continuously researched and done everything she could in order to attempt to join her team again. However, she felt as if she was not being heard. Gentry continues by stating, “I believe that this act of ignorance is showing girls of young age that we are not being heard and that our voices do not matter to authority.  Having this last opportunity of playing high school soccer taken away from me leaves me with an uneasy and painful feeling especially when I know I did nothing wrong. I believe we should have never been forced to be put in a difficult decision choosing between a college showcase and my last high school season”

Many girls on the team are arguing that this rule is an unjust and harsh punishment, which draws back from why the rule was settled in the first place. In 2012, the rule was created in order to prevent club players from joining their high school team late, and potentially kicking off other students from the roster who joined in the beginning. However, these eleven girls all joined their team at the beginning of the season just like everyone else. Unfortunately, the board ultimately decided to reject these girls’ ability to join their high school team, leaving them saddened on the sidelines.