Column: Being a junior on JV

Malia Wanderer, Sports Editor

The girls’ JV soccer team listens to Head Coach Jessie Berta at half time during its last game of the season against Santa Clara High School. Overall, the team had a successful season, only losing one game, and finishing second in league play. Photo: Malia Wanderer

While many high school athletes look forward to playing on varsity their junior and senior years, some find themselves stuck on junior varsity for a third year. As a result, these juniors have to face the unfortunate task of putting up with high-energy freshmen and sophomore teammates for months as they navigate their way through the season.

I was one of four of these juniors on Palo Alto High School girls’ JV soccer team, and these were the stages of my journey throughout the season.

Beginning of season: This is awful and humiliating — everything sucks

When I first found out I was going to be on JV again after looking forward to playing on varsity, I was devastated. Before tryouts were even over it was already set in stone. I play goalie, and because there were no freshmen or sophomore goalies, I got stuck on JV with no possibility of making varsity. I found this really frustrating because, although JV needed a goalie, I’d rather play left, right, or center bench on varsity than be the star (and only) goalie on JV. 

The first month of being juniors on JV involved us isolating ourselves from the rest of the team, looking (and feeling) sad at practice, and a seemingly incurable sense of embarrassment. I was convinced that there was no chance for me to improve and found myself preparing for the worst possible soccer season, because how could anything possibly be worse than being a junior on JV and playing with a bunch of freshmen and sophomores? 

Mid-season: Hey, this isn’t so bad

By the time January rolled around, I started to warm up to my teammates, and felt less bitter about spending a third season on the JV soccer team. The sophomores and freshmen actually ended up being nice and fun to be around, but even more rambunctious than I expected.

After watching from the bench the last two years, I got to play against Los Gatos for the first time, which was a big bonus of being on JV. Even though I thought I would rather sit on the bench on varsity, I realized that maybe it’s good to get more experience in less stressful, lower stakes games. On JV I could push myself outside my comfort zone and worry less about catastrophic failure. 

End of season: Thanks JV, it’s been fun

The JV soccer team’s last game against Santa Clara meant one thing: my three-year-long JV soccer career was finally over! I wasn’t expecting it, but it had been a fun season, and there was no better way to wrap up my time on JV than with a 3-0 win. 

This season didn’t end up being the nightmare I thought it would be, and actually proved to be a positive experience. Looking back, I realize that, despite my initial convictions, I did improve thanks to all the experience I got playing in games. This season I also became much more confident in my goalkeeping abilities thanks to all the playing time I got.

This season was bittersweet because, though it was an enjoyable experience overall, I feel like I missed out on something by not being on varsity. However, it was a very interesting time, and the JV juniors did somehow stay sane and managed to turn this potentially disastrous season into something fun.