Thursday, Dec. 4, 2008 | 1 a.m.
After a year of uncertainty as to when and in what form the high school girls soccer season would come, reigning Sunrise Regional champion Green Valley High is back on the field.
The season was originally slated to move from the winter season to fall this school year, which would allow for a state tournament against Northern Nevada schools.
However, the move was challenged by a Title IX lawsuit that was filed against the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association on behalf of Green Valley player Emma Johnson. The lawsuit claimed changing seasons would limit opportunities for girls to play sports in the winter.
The lawsuit was settled in September, with both sides agreeing to postpone the move for one year. The Clark County School District is spending the year investigating its Title IX compliance, and looking for a financially feasible option to add another girls sport — like lacrosse — in the winter. Clark County is the lone district in the state to play in the winter.
With the legal issues behind them, girls from Henderson area teams are happy to get back to something they control — playing their game of choice. Games begin across the Las Vegas Valley on Dec. 9.
"I'm glad that's all over with," Green Valley forward Kayla Varner said. "There's less drama, it's less stressful and we can start building our team and start bonding. We all just want to play soccer."
The Gators lost 13 seniors to graduation and face an uphill battle to remain a force in the competitive Southeast Division. But coach Joel Parks said he's just happy to see his team back in action.
"I don't think the delays inconvenienced (the coaches) all that much, but it certainly wasn't easy on the kids," Parks said. "They absolutely want to play for a true state championship, but the threat of no postseason was rough on them. They're excited now that things are sorted out. They feel like they're playing for a reason again."
With only six returners on the roster and seven freshman on varsity, Parks will rely on his only returning starters — Varner and Asli Kupoglu — to lead the team through this rebuilding year.
"It feels great to be back on the field after waiting so long," Kupoglu said. "We have a lot of youth, but we have a lot of potential, too. We're probably not going to be as strong as we were last year, but we're Green Valley — we'll pull together."
The Gators' stiffest competition in the Southeast will come from Silverado, which returns eight starters. Skyhawks coach Jenna Carter said the uncertainty about the season and lingering doubts about next year have been rough on coaches.
"We're ready to go," Carter said. "We didn't lose too many girls, so we should be competitive. We're putting (the uncertainty about the future) behind us and focusing on this season. We're excited to get started."
Leading the way for the 'Hawks will be returning senior forward Shelbi Spooner, who is in her fourth year on varsity.
"I was worried about what would happen with the season because we had a lot of key players who might have had to quit soccer to play another fall sport," Spooner said. "I'm glad that's all over and we can get going."
Jared Harmon can be reached at 990-8922 or [email protected].