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PETITION OUT TO REUNIFY SPORTS

Most coaches prefer unification of leagues

By Patrick Lujan

It’s been more than three years since the Guam Education Board voted to remove GDOE schools from the IIAAG, essentially creating two high school leagues (in most cases) – one for public schools and one for private schools.

Aside from the seasons affected by the COVID pandemic, the 2021-22 season has been the first true school year where the IIAAG (private) and ISA (public) leagues have really been put into practice.

Confusion and frustration over scheduling and logistics along with parental concerns has prompted FD head volleyball coach Steve Pangelinan to start a petition to gain favor to reunite the leagues as it once was under the IIAAG.

“Within my realm, I do not control the decision on whether the leagues combine or cross, but I figured I can only do two things about it,” Pangelinan said. “First, I can follow my chain of command and ask my AD – which I have done; and second, I could ask the community to sign the petition, so that they can have a venue to express their opinion, and so the powers that be on the ISA side and in the IIAAG side can see that regardless of what is said in their meetings, this is what a majority of the volleyball community wants.”

Of course, all sports are not separated. Football, baseball, wrestling and track & field combine public and private schools because of the lack of schools participating.

Wrestling is one of a few sports that combined both public and private schools. (GSPN file photo)

It has been a struggle, to say the least, on keeping up with all the different schedules – even from a media standpoint. But the biggest stakeholders in this whole shift are the players and coaches. Here are what some of the coaches from different sports think of the current status so far:

COACHES THOUGHTS

“To put it plainly… I did not and still do not support the split of the leagues. I went to most stakeholder meetings prior to the split and heard all the stuff it was supposed to bring… And to be quite honest, haven’t seen any difference . With all that said, it’s funny how most sports still combine and play, with the exception of the sport I am involved with. As a competitor in years past and now a coach, the only people affected are the student athletes and the sheer aspect of competition.” – Art Stanley, volleyball coach

“I prefer the separation. GDOE has been catering to IIAAG for too long. Private schools have been stacking up the best athletes for too long. There needs to be rules when it comes to transfers.” – Dean Castro, athletic director

“I do not like the separation. It’s not fair for our kids because there are fewer games and we’re such a small island with what? 12 schools? We should be able to play everyone. Also, separating creates a division. There’s less exposure, less games. I’m not a fan of it. We should definitely come together under one league. At the end of the day, we have to do it for these kids who want to play and get more exposure,” – Jimmy Yi, basketball coach

“It’s really about the policies put in place by the governing bodies of IIAAG and ISA. It’s much more than having the kids play in a combined league. It’s the rules, guidelines, and equity setting standards for each sport. IIAAG and ISA governing bodies need to find a consensus. I like the idea of competing with IIAAG schools, but we are also guided with policies that are put in place before season starts. IIAAG and ISA really need to sit together address these concerns.” – Rod Pama, volleyball coach

“Every coach and athlete wants to test themselves against the best. I see no advantage of having separate leagues when it comes to competition. In the end it robs the kids the opportunity to prove themselves against any and all competitors.” – Desmond Mandell, running coach

“I have coached MS boys’ basketball, MS girls’ basketball, MS boys’ volleyball, and HS girls and boys cross country, as well as served as assistant AD at St. John’s for the past 15 years. What has transpired over the past 2+ years has been a travesty perpetrated by administrations on both sides of the aisle, so to speak. I have sat in a few meetings with other AD’s, heard interviews from superintendents, and government officials, and not once have I heard the phrase “This ‘separation’ of leagues was done for the benefit of the student athletes”…that would simply not be true. The overall level of competition is at an all-time low. Does it seem that this move of separating the schools has increased competition, or decreased it? I think anyone who has been around competition of any kind would say the obvious answer is “we have stolen the opportunity for our kids to even have a chance (at higher/next level competition)” and to me that is the sad part….It is always a long shot for kids from Guam to play at the next level…but it seems school administrators have taken that long shot, and made it almost impossible.”

“Of course, this situation can be fixed. It honestly does not seem so complicated….but it would most likely have to come from the governor, or a government official to demand that we get ALL SCHOOLS playing each other again on a regular basis. It seems to be a stalemate on the parts of ISA and IIAAG at this point, and the longer the situation lasts, the further down the competition level will go.” – Fred Peters, basketball coach

“After playing and coaching volleyball for more than three decades, I have experienced first hand how sports competition inspires our youth to work hard, perform their best through adversity, and work with others to achieve a common goal. We should be teaching our youth about inclusion, not exclusion. Every coach and student-athlete that I have spoken to share the same sentiment of a One Guam approach (to compete in a single organized league). Bottom line, the bigger the exposure, the better the experience, and the greater the lessons taught. If you want to hear the ground truth, listen to the athletes and coaches that participate in our leagues.” – Manny Guarin, volleyball coach

“I’ve always been against separation since the start. To be honest, I don’t know one person who agrees with it and is happy. In reality, everyone enjoys the competitiveness of public and private school. The negative impact that it shortens the season and the athletes TRUE ability to shine. There’s a separation of accolades especially when it comes to college recruiting. What college recruiter would pick one of the two MVPs selected this year? Doesn’t make sense. How can athletes build a profile playing six teams only rather than the 12. – Mike Rabago, volleyball coach

“That would be good, one league again.” – public school athletic director who asked not to be identified

PANGELINAN’S PETITION

Back to Coach Pangelinan’s petition to combine the volleyball leagues, he said almost 850 people signed it in just the first four days.

“I saw names of coaches from both the ISA side and IIAAG side that have signed. This is proof of what our community wants. I don’t know what will come of it. But at least I can say I helped these voices be heard. And in the end, I hope the ISA board and the IIAAG board can find a way to let both sides compete against each other.”

GSPN POLLS

GSPN took a poll in 2018 about the separation of leagues. 78% of about 700 people thought it was a ‘bad idea’.

We took an updated poll on whether people ‘like’ or ‘don’t like’ the leagues separated after 2+ years. Almost 1300 people voted and 81% ‘don’t like’ the separation of leagues.

Is it too early to call the separation a failure? Can these concerns be addressed in the near future? Stay tuned!

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COMING SOON …

  • IIAAG & ISA Championships
  • YOUTH FOOTBALL LEAGUE KICKOFF June 4
  • GSPN Boys Volleyball All-Star Game
  • Pacific Mini-Games in Saipan

QUICK HITS

Sisters CiMara-Lei (10th) and CiHara-Lei (9th) Wessling both made the Academic All-District Team playing for Veterans Memorial High softball team in Converse, TX.
They are the daughters of former star quarterback and pitcher Chris ‘Cool Breeze’ Wessling and wife Missy.
CiMara-Lei was also named the league’s Newcomer of the Year after the family moved from Dallas to San Antonio.
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Austia Mendiola made it to the California state pairs finals in collegiate beach volleyball before losing to Monterey Peninsula.
Playing for San Diego Mesa College, Mendiola and her partner made it to the finals out of 32 top women’s college teams in the state.

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