Congrats to Westlake High School Boys Lacrosse (15-2). They made the D1 CIF playoffs and lost by 1 point to Los Alamitos in a nail-biter… Quick question: Out of 31 total teams, 25 teams in CIF Boys Lacrosse D1 made the playoffs. Only 6 teams did not. I’d like to know – Why did basically every team make it to the playoffs?
Congrats to Newbury Park HS Girls Lacrosse (15-2). They made the D1 CIF playoffs and lost in the championship game vs. Foothill. Great season, girls! Congrats on getting to the championship game. Well done, players — and well done, coaches. Why? Because in CIF Girls D1, “only” 13 out of 26 total teams made the playoffs. The girls’ coaches have it right. For the playoffs, everyone doesn’t get to play! That is why it’s called “competition.”
Is it about winning or competing? I was sitting there at Westlake High School watching the playoff game vs. Los Alamitos. It was an awesome game. The lead changed multiple times. Down by 2, up by 1, tied at halftime. So competitive and exciting! In the end, Westlake lost by 1. It tells you how good the competition was when my team lost, and I loved the game! … But as I drove home, I got annoyed. Looking back on the season. I felt like I was cheated… All the other games played that year were so lopsided. Westlake beat mediocre teams by 10 to 20 points, with the exception of #1-ranked Loyola, to which they lost by 9… Here in Ventura County, our lacrosse is not even close to how it is played in Orange County. Teams down south will not play a bad team. Here in Ventura County, the coaches want to play teams they know they will beat. Why? Because these days, it’s all about winning — not competing. Three Div. 1 schools in our area turned down games vs. Westlake. To true competitors, it’s obvious that you only get better if you play the best. Whatever happened to wanting to play good teams to measure yourself against? To see where your hard training has brought you? This is a serious question for local sports, and I’ll return to it …
Football season is starting! I can’t wait for it to really get rolling; last season was a mess… Looking ahead, I have the highest respect for Thousand Oaks HS football coaches! The 2021 season opener is Westlake vs. TOHS on Friday, August 8, at Westlake Stadium. TO coaches never run from a game. For the second year in a row, NPHS and Moorpark HS have declined to play Westlake, Calabasas or Oaks Christian in football, even though all three teams are in a rebuilding year, with new head coaches. Seems like the only smart head coach is Jim Benkert: he scheduled Calabasas because he wants to beat a once-great team. Good coaches always raise the level of play and look for good competition.
I can’t get away from the subject. Since when did “competition” become a bad word? Why do coaches steal this experience from our youth? Why are athletes robbed of competitive games by their coaches? When did this all change?
Sierra Canyon got respect in the football community by playing well and competing against football juggernaut St. John Bosco. It was competitive! It was fun. Everybody benefited from that.
No disrespect is meant for any of our local athletes. They train hard and play the games the coaches set up. Athletes all want to play the kids they grew up with and match up against neighboring schools. The players are on board. But I am calling out the coaches who are running from competition. The parents need to know what’s happening. Here’s my challenge: If you’re a coach and you turn down a local game because you don’t want to lose… GET OUT OF COACHING! You are harming your kids. You are harming your teams. You are harming the spirit of the game and cheapening the experience for everyone — fans, parents, athletes and other coaches. Not everyone gets a trophy. You can’t get better by scheduling easy games. Man up and go after someone better than you.
Let these kids play their friends. Let them enjoy cross-town rivalries. As I have said in the past, What makes a great team? It’s the coach… So stop running away from challenging games. Let’s get back to competing!
The good news is, football is back to normal. First games are scheduled for August! I will have my picks next month. Stay competitive! And have fun.