As the 2013 high school soccer season kicks off it brings back memories of my days playing for the San Pedro High School varsity soccer team, especially now as I watch my son Antonio play for the JV team.
Back in the early 80s there was only varsity soccer, which made tryouts highly competitive. Many hoping to make the team did not and as a sophomore, I was one of them. I had only played soccer for three years and knew to make the team the next season I would have to train even harder in the off season. I joined the Pirate track team to increase my speed, ran hurdles to improve my reaction time and agility, and spent countless hours improving ball placement and left foot kicking skills. The next season I made the varsity team and in 1983, my senior year, I became the teams co-captain. That year we finished first in the Marine League but it wasn’t the first place finish that I reflect on, but rather being on the team that had two girls on the roster for the first time in SPHS history: Weslie Williamson and Lisa Kamppila. It was also the year that Weslie scored the first goal by a girl Pirate against Locke High School at Daniels Field.
My coach was Anthony Scirocco for both seasons that I played for the Pirates. He was great to play for because he had passion and tried different approaches and drills to help us improve our game and listened and learned from his players, as well. One thing I appreciated about coach was his candor. For example, looking back at my junior yearbook he signed it saying, “If you could be as hard working in the classroom as you are on the field, now that would be something. Go and get ’em.” That was coach. But with all of the pressure that comes with high school coaching, Scirocco was great at encouraging and motivating us to be our best. He also had vision.
During my senior year, I was the teacher’s assistant during his second period class. Once his students began their individual assignments, we would discuss the upcoming season, players, drills, basically everything soccer. One day, Scirocco leaned over to me and asked, “What would you think if we had a couple of girls on our soccer team?” At the time I wasn’t aware that two girls had tried out, the thought of having them play on a team with twenty boys was bold. Together we discussed the pros and cons and in the end agreed that having them on the team would have a positive impact, not only on our team, but on the future of girl’s soccer at SPHS.
Weslie played soccer for six years and Lisa five prior to coming to SPHS. It was their love for the game that gave them the drive to tryout for the boy’s team. Once they joined the squad the team accepted them without any concerns. They practiced just as hard (if not harder) than any of the boys and were great teammates. That season was Locke’s first year in the Marine League. When Weslie and Lisa entered that game, Locke was already having a difficult time containing our offense and trouble penetrating our defense. Weslie joined the forward line and after a barrage of shots on the Locke goalie one of them came loose from his hands right to Weslie and she put the ball in the back of the net. We would go on to win the game 11-1. That goal paved the way for others such as Noelle Jensen and Lisa Tregarthen to play on the boy’s soccer team until the first girl’s soccer team was established in 1988.
Weslie and Lisa’s decision to tryout for the boy’s soccer team back in 1983, and the decision by Coach Scirocco to put them on the roster, blazed the trail for all the girls who play Pirate soccer today. It was bold and it was time. I was glad to have been a part of it. Go Pirates. spt