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May 31, 2011 7:12 am

SPORTS GUY: A simple soccer solution

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You don’t want to get on the bad side of soccer fans. We are, after all, talking about a sport whose followers get so stirred by their passion that the pastime has triggered countless stadium riots and at least one war between nations.

Put simply, if you’re compiling suggestions for a happy and stress-free life, keeping soccer fans happy should be somewhere on your list.

Happy soccer fans are hard to be found in the Powell area right now. Some are downright upset following the revelation that members of the Powell High School teams were effectively blocked from receiving post-season recognition after a communication error caused Panther soccer coaches to be unaware of a time change for the meeting where the nominations and final voting took place.

The target of their ire has been the Wyoming Coaches Association, and that’s unfortunate. As an organization, the WCA does an outstanding job in helping to train the state’s coaches, promote sports, provide recognition and share inspirational stories via the Profiles in Courage awards, among many other things.

In this case though, a mistake was made. WCA soccer representative Dean Schaff admits as much, and I admire the fact that he both acknowledged and apologized for the error.

Saying you’re sorry only goes so far though. Promises to do better next year ring pretty hollow to athletes for whom this was the final year. They also won’t hold any healing power for any returning athletes injured and unable to play next season.

There’s a key point here that nobody seems to dispute — there remain male and female soccer players from at least two Wyoming high schools who just completed a season of competition. Some of them might deserve post-season recognition. They definitely deserve a fair chance to be recognized.

The solution is simple.

Schaff should immediately request from soccer coaches at Powell, Douglas and any other 3A school that fell victim to the meeting time miscommunication a list of nominees for all-conference recognition. This should consist of a name, relevant stats and 2-3 sentences worth of rationale for why the coach feels said player is worthy of the honor.

Those lists should then be distributed to the remaining WCA-member coaches from the appropriate conference. Those coaches can then give a simple up-down vote on each player listed. Players achieving whatever threshold was required at the post-season meeting for all-conference designation (or whatever standard Schaff cares to create for this unique scenario) should be recognized by the WCA as all-conference performers.

For any new players earning all-conference honors, ship their names and justification to coaches on the opposite half of the state and repeat the up-down vote process to see if all-state honors are warranted.

Under this suggestion, all 3A players who have already been recognized this post-season retain their distinction. Players from the impacted schools are now given a fighting chance to be recognized alongside those Wyoming prep soccer standouts.

Best of all, it gives the WCA an easy way to undo as much of the damage from this year’s post-season meeting snafu as possible.

Yes, it will look a little strange having to issue an all-state/all-conference addendum. It won’t have quite the same feel for any kids added after-the-fact. But it’s a far cry better than not recognizing those kids at all.

There’s a full calendar year to work on creating clearer channels of communication among the state’s coaches. For members of the senior class of 2011, there’s only now.

For an organization that does as much for students and sport as the WCA, undertaking a simple solution like this would appear to be a no-brainer.

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