Competition for playing time increases, varsity positions limited

Morgan Barnes

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With more athletes in sports than there are available varsity spots, the competition for prime playing time can be intense, especially in sports like football, soccer and volleyball. The football team currently has 22 offensive and defensive varsity spots in addition to the special teams. The soccer team has 11 positions, while volleyball has nine to ten spots per team. Each coach has a different strategy for who to play at what time.

“My hope was to have 20 seniors, we have 22. My hope for the overall team was to have 60 players, we have 66. So in that sense I am happy with the direction we are going,” said head football coach Chris Jaax. “We are trying to provide players with opportunities to see the field. Players are only playing on one side of the ball, so that’s 22 starting positions, plus special teams. So our biggest point of evaluation is who is going to help the team out the most at each position. We want the players to make each other better through competition.”

For some coaches it is not only their players skills in the game, but their knowledge of the game. This gives players an extra edge, making them the better choice for the position.

“The coaching staff chooses rotations/playing time based off of a number of different criteria. We take a lot of different stats in practice to see who are the most consistent players or the best at each skill. And then we have to factor in intangible things like hustle, leadership and knowledge of the game,” head volleyball coach Jamie Dibbens said. “I think having competition for playing time makes our practices fun. If you walk into our gym and we have 15 girls playing at a varsity level we are only getting better. At the same time we may have lost some players not coming out because they were unsure of if they would be on varsity or not and that’s a very sad thing to me. Having strong teams at every level and everyone excepting their roles is what make the tradition here so strong.”

While players may seem to be the best option at the time, the decision is not always final. Players have to be on their best game on and off of the field.

“We look at fitness, skill, and knowledge of the game along with work ethic. As a coaching staff, we choose the top 11 players we feel will help us compete at the highest level. Playing time depends on those above factors,” head soccer coach Scott Jantzi said. “We knew what we had returning. (We) did not know much about the freshmen or the foreign exchange students. Sometimes we are lucky. It can cause conflict between players at times, because they’re all fighting for playing time. The coaching staff is always looking at attitude, fitness, and grades. So, no the varsity spots are not final.”