Monday, August 9, 2010

The WCAL: A coveted title, a Catholic league

Many high school coaches and athletes in the West Catholic Athletic League (WCAL) will agree--winning the WCAL title is a bigger deal than winning the Central Coast Section (CCS) division title. This should seem illogical. Whereas the CCS of California is comprised of over 100 schools --in a geographic region stretching from San Francisco in the north to King City in the south, the WCAL consists of just ten schools that compete in a boys and girls league. All ten schools are Christian, and nine out of ten are Catholic, several are diocesan schools and others are run by a variety of religious orders. Loyalty to these schools runs deep; rivalries among Catholic schools can be fierce. Consequently, becoming the WCAL champion is a coveted distinction. Victory tastes very, very sweet.There is something special about being part of the WCAL. Perhaps I recognize this because I attended Carondelet, a Catholic girls’ school in Concord, CA-- the only Catholic secondary school in both Contra Costa County and in the Bay Valley Athletic league. Because other schools in the BVAL do not have an open enrollment policy, our competitors often felt they were at a disadvantage. No doubt, we drew from a broad area. Coaching in the WCAL, this distinction is of no significance. We compete against other schools that are supposed to be a lot like ours—only they’re not.

Some schools in the WCAL are true “city schools.” Others are located in the suburbs. Some have populations that are more racially and religiously diverse. Despite many differences, what unites us is so much more than what separates and divides us: it is our common faith. Our foundation is to educate our students and coach our athletes with the love of the Lord. Even though we often fail, we strive to represent something more than ourselves. Our athletes are quite often the public face of what many people refer to as a “private” school. I don’t. I always say a “Catholic school.” And that means a great many things.Being a Catholic school is demonstrated in a number of ways in the WCAL. Before competitions, not only do we salute the flag, we bow our heads in prayer. There is an on-going and vibrant concern for the spiritual formation of our athletes. When Ć’coaches gather for informational meetings, at the beginning of each season, this is often considered. League policy mandates that we do not hold practice on Sundays. In an increasingly busy world, it becomes that much more difficult to observe the Sabbath. I am grateful that the WCAL is committed to at least one day of rest per week! The WCAL was created in 1967; generations of Catholics have had the honor of competing, coaching, officiating and watching athletes with heart, hunger and faith.

I am curious to know how many other Catholic leagues exist in the United States. What are their distinctions, traditions, triumphs and struggles? How does winning the title in their league compare with the pride and honor of winning the WCAL. Fortunately the advent of CatholicSportsNet: “a website that will serve as a national showcase for on and off the field achievements of male and female Catholic high school, collegiate, and professional student-athletes, teams, coaches, and administrators” may provide me with some answers. Evidently, it is the only media outlet in the sports industry that can lay claim to the reporting solely of Catholic sports. According to their website, will “serving nearly 1,200 high schools, 220-plus colleges, and over 70 million Catholic Americans around the country, CSN will provide up-to-date news, feature articles, student-athlete spotlights, national rankings, recruitment information, and a comprehensive multimedia unit that will include weekly newscasts, interviews, and streaming video.”

This fall as students return to practice and to competition, I look forward to using CatholicSportsNet to determine how those in the WCAL compare with others both locally and nationally. And of course, who will earn the WCAL title.

Photo Credits
Serra Padres: WCAL Champs
WCAL Logo: The Medley
XC: WCAL Championship

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