In an era of budget cutbacks, any school that can't prove adequate demand for a sport is almost sure to lose that offering. Those student athletes who are left behind are simply out of luck.
Yet, at one Washington school where girls soccer was one of those sports on the chopping block, another solution emerged: The girls who wanted to play joined the boys team. Then, to the amazement of other coaches and student athletes, the girls who joined the team emerged as the team's stars.
As reported by the Tacoma News Tribune, Tacoma (Wash.) Baptist School senior Becca McDonald and junior Bryanna Slattery joined the Tacoma Baptist boys team after the school phased out its girls program because of lack of participation. The pair of female players were forced to try out for the boys team just like all other players. Both were eventually selected on their merit.
"I have enough guys to field a team," Tacoma Baptist coach Josh Narayan told the News Tribune. "But I also thought (the girls) could help us. It has worked out for the best."
Now, with most of a season played, both girls are key contributors to Tacoma Baptist's success. McDonald, playing as a striker, has racked up an astonishing 17 goals and ranks as the team's second-leading scorer. Slattery lines up as a wing midfielder, where she often plays alongside her twin brother, Casey Slattery.
Making matters even more impressive is that the female tandem has stood out this year after spending a season away from the sport. Tacoma Baptist canceled the girls soccer program just before the 2011 campaign, with McDonald choosing to run cross country in the fall of her junior season and Slattery joining the volleyball team.
Now, both players are back in their more natural sports and making a lasting impression.
"I think the guys trusted me right away — all of them — but I didn't think it would be like that at all." McDonald told the News Tribune. "Everybody has been excited for me, telling me, 'Good job' and how they were glad I was on the team, regardless if I was a girl.
"I have heard a few people say, 'It is a girl,' and they do not respect me at first, or why do they have to mark a girl. But once the action starts, that goes away."