Only two public high schools in northern Virgina are playing soccer this fall, while all the others will play in the spring.
But Yorktown and Washington-Lee High Schools don't have their seasons confused. For years, logistical and personnel problems have made springtime soccer a virtual impossibility for these schools.
"We have a problem with limited outdoor space," says W-L Athletic Director John Youngblood. "We also feel playing in the fall gives us a better balanced athletic program. And, if we did play in the spring, we wouldn't have anyone to coach soccer for us."
Yorktown faces virtually the same set of circumstances.
By playing in the fall rather than the spring, both teams lose the opportunity to compete against natural Virginia rivals. Instead, they play in the Washington Metropolitan Area Independent Soccer League against each other and eight private schools: Archbishop Carroll, St. John's, Episcopal, O'Connell, St. Albans, Ireton, De Matha, and Sandy Spring.
Since W-L and Yorktown do not play soccer against Virginia High School League (VHSL) opponents, their teams are ineligible for post-season regional competition in the state.
"If we didn't offer soccer in the fall," Youngblood says, "all we would have to offer is football and cross country. Everything else is a winter or spring sport."
Spring sports include track, tennis, crew, baseball, golf and softball, all requiring outdoor facilities.
At Yorktown, soccer coach De. Norwood is also the varsity baseball coach, and replacing him for either sport would be difficult according to Youngblood because "decreasing enrollment causes cutbacks in the number of teachers and that makes it hard to find coaches."
Norwood feels that other area public schools have not scheduled soccer in the fall because athletic departments fear it will draw players and fans away from football, though that has not been the case at either W-L or Yorktown.
"We don't find many cases where kids can't decide whether to play soccer or football," Norwood says."They know what they want to play."
Neither Yorktwon nor W-L schedules football and soccer on the same night. All parties involved feel that avoiding such a conflict is practical.
"We've drawn some good soccer crowds in the past," says Norwood. "We has a couple of thousand at our tournament last year."
Yorktown soccer coach Jim Allen says, "We mesh our schedule with football because we use the same field as they do. We have combination goals which can be converted for use in either sport."
Allen also notes that if his team were to play in the spring, "We wouldn't have a home field because a fence runs through if for baseball." As it is, his team holds its daily practices at a junior high school field a mile away from Yorktown.
Since interest in playing and watching soccer is growing, Youngblood feels that statewide championship competition in soccer is inevitable under the VHSL. While he'd like W-L to have the chance to take part in it, he doesn't foresee a change to spring play as practical or probable.
Norwood and Allen, both veteran coaches, do not seem upset about playing outside the VHSL to schedule fall games. Both were coaching in the early 60's when soccer was played as a winter sport.
"You had to have a lot spirit to play in those days," Norwood recalls. "It got cold, but as long as it wasn't real wet, it wasn't too bad. Sometimes we had to play right on the snow and line the field with sawdust."