PMHS soccer, field hockey players say football team gets preference in field scheduling


Pelham Memorial High School student-athletes have criticized the athletic department for prioritizing the football team over other fall sports in allocating fields during the week, forcing delays, reschedulings and cancellations of varsity soccer and field hockey practices and games. 

Other commitments such as tutoring, standardized test preparation and therapy have been put on hold by some athletes, as players on the soccer and field hockey teams are not able to count on the predictability that lets them schedule these activities, according to several students.

On Sept. 28, the varsity boys soccer, varsity girls soccer and varsity field hockey teams all had to share the new turf field adjacent to Glover Field for their two-hour practices, giving each team a small area of field space and eliminating the opportunity for scrimmages and full-field exercises, according to senior field hockey player Claudia Hoeh. This was so football could have that same field during the earlier practice time. 

When asked why three teams had to share one field, Athletic Director Christian Hodge said in an email, “due to the size of the (football) program, it is not prudent to have multiple teams practice on the same field at that time. There is sufficient space on the new turf for the three other sports.”

The varsity and JV football teams practice together and have a combined roster of about 80 players. The varsity soccer teams and the varsity field hockey team together have approximately 75 players in total. 

Varsity and JV football practices run from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day on the new turf field, according to a varsity football player, who asked not to be named. He said the team has rarely had its practices rescheduled or canceled. 

“We’ve had practices where we only get a quarter of the field for our use,” said Jake Fellner, a player on the boys varsity soccer team. “However, having no practice at all is worse than having limited space, which is what happened” Oct. 5, when his team’s practice was cancelled due to a game and a practice being held on the fields. 

“When we share fields with multiple teams in practice, we are limited in what we can do,” said Fellner. “Having more space would allow us to better train the things we need to work on and win more games.”

On Oct. 3, a varsity field hockey game was rescheduled because it was set to take place on the new turf field at 4:30 p.m., which would have interfered with the football team’s practice. The field hockey players were notified seven hours earlier on the day of the match. 

Hodge said the change to the field hockey game was due to a shift in scheduling on the athletic department’s part so that “all games will now begin at or later than 5:30 p.m. to hopefully mend these conflicts.”

In the end, the game the football team practiced for that week didn’t happen because Poly Prep canceled at the last minute. Field hockey played its homecoming game during football’s slot on that Friday night.

“I want fairness and equity for all girls and boys sports teams, and I don’t think we have that yet,” said Hoeh. “I think it’s unfair that certain teams are given priority over others when it comes to scheduling practices and games.”

Nick Prencis, a senior on the boys varsity soccer team, said,  “It’s annoying to deal with (these problems) since we don’t get any priority.”

Aoife Jeffries, a player on the girls varsity soccer team, said her team was notified of the time of their Oct. 11 practice that morning, with a game against Rye the next day. Jeffries said the team started practice late because players “did not have their stuff in the locker room” since they were told about the practice at the last minute. She said when practice schedules came out on Sundays, the girls team would not have a finalized practice time for Wednesdays, Thursdays or Fridays, and players would have to wait until later in the week to find out when they would be training.

“It is not our intent to show any preference to a particular program or team as we schedule our practices and games,” said Hodge. “Our schedules are not based solely on the needs of any particular program or team; however, we do need to take into account the size of our teams and the length of time games may take, as well as other factors.”

Editor’s note: This story was edited to make it clearer which fields are involved.