SJS considers new athletic teams structure, offering juniors spots on JV teams

Elena Bateman

Junior athletes may play on JV teams, freshman-only teams could be eliminated altogether, and a freshman-sophomore team could be introduced to RJUHSD if a new Sierra Foothill League (SFL) proposal is approved this April.

This plan was introduced last spring when athletic directors within the San-Joaquin Section (SJS) noticed that nearly every other section within the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) followed this system, and the SJS is one of the only sections that only allow freshman on one team, sophomores and freshman on JV, and all ages on varsity. Currently, when travelling to other sections, JV teams from the SJS are forced to play against juniors that are older and potentially stronger.

This January, the SFL will bring it to the CIF reading, and the following April, the board will vote on whether or not the change will occur.

Steve Thornton, SFL Commissioner, felt that the athletic directors believed that the SJS was missing out on this opportunity to improve all levels of teams. Thornton explained that this could give an additional year for players to improve, therefore keeping them in their sports programs and helping them make the varsity team better when they become seniors.

“The athletic directors felt really strongly that sometimes there are juniors that lose out because athletically they haven’t developed enough to play at a high level like varsity, but they have potential to develop another year on JV and maybe play their senior year [on varsity],” Thornton said. “Currently, if you’re a junior and you’re not quite good enough to play on varsity, you either get cut, or sit the bench for the year. They were looking for a way to help those people that need that extra year.”