Eckl: The all-region selection process needs a change

At least among the soccer ranks

Nevada Appeal sports director Carter Eckl

Nevada Appeal sports director Carter Eckl

 The Class 5A Northern Nevada all-region soccer teams came out Wednesday afternoon and I took exception to several teams being left off the list in entirety.
I feel the need to start by saying, I’ve been around these types of all-region, all-conference selections for several years – including in other states – and this is not the first time I’ve seen problems with how the selection process is done. It’s not the second time, either.
Ultimately, I think it comes down to a simple question to the coaches that make the decisions – do you care more about electing your players or more about making sure the all-region teams still mean something?
I’m not looking to take away recognition of the athletes on either list, but I would like to see the coaches involved in the selection bring back a level of consistency and logic that was clearly pushed aside in this year’s selections.
With the 2021 soccer all-region selections this year, the first thing that caught my eye was the lack of Carson High girls on the list. Of the 33 spots available – 11 selections for 1st team, second team and honorable mention – not one was given to the Senators.
Before you jump on me for hometown reporting bias, I am aware Carson finished eighth out of nine teams in Class 5A in Northern Nevada.
However, the team in ninth rightfully earned two spots on the all-region list.
I’ve heard from a few coaches since I initially tweeted out concern and while I appreciate their willingness to share insight into the process, it’s still one that puzzles me.
With only nine teams in Northern Nevada Class 5A soccer, most coaches are aware of the talented players on an opposing squad.
That goes double for players that make the all-region list earlier in their careers, as they are even more likely to draw attention from opposing coaches.
Carson High has several seniors signed to play collegiate soccer and while that does not directly translate to on-field success, it does show there’s talent on hand.
While 33 spots still remains a selective bunch, and rightfully so, I find it hard to believe a Carson senior committed to play Div. I soccer couldn’t find a spot on the list.
That same senior was also named a second team all-region player as a junior.
While Carson High may not have had direct representation at the all-region meeting, the coaches present should be disappointed for ignoring a team entirely.
On the boys’ side it was exponentially worse, two teams were blanked from all-region selections – including the No. 2 seed in North Valleys.
The Panthers had two of the top-four point scorers in Class 5A, neither receive a sliver of recognition for their season’s.
Those statistics are easily accessible on MaxPreps.
In my opinion, that ruins the entire purpose of an all-region team.

I understand mistakes happen.
I’ve been a part of selection committees where we’ve accidentally missed a player because they weren’t nominated or we were unaware of their statistics.
Representation is important at these meetings and I know if a coach isn’t there, it’s tough to choose whom to select.
That is exactly the pushback I expect to receive from this column from coaches.
With that being said, in the age of COVID haven’t we learned that an email or a text message can accomplish a lot?
Please tell me why a coach can’t nominate players from another team, especially if they’re notified ahead of time?
I believe these coaches have seen enough of these athletes and former all-region lists to be able to – at the VERY LEAST – acknowledge one player from every team.
Ignoring three entire teams is not a mistake; it’s intentional and shows flaws in the entire process.
If you ignore three of 18 teams, that’s one-sixth of the entire region.
Can we even still call them all-region teams at that point?
While this may fall under ‘the way things have always been,’ it certainly doesn’t have to be.  
For the amount of times I’ve heard ‘it’s about the kids/athletes’ over the last calendar year, I thought the coaches had the same thing in mind?
Forgetting one player is an accident; blatantly ignoring three teams is intentional.
Life is complicated, people miss meetings, but the other coaches in attendance know they’re leaving off deserving, worthwhile talent.
To me, it borders on invalidating the all-region teams as a whole and I think it’s truly disappointing.
I’m not looking to re-select or re-litigate the all-region teams this year, I just hope a couple coaches see this story and choose to do the right thing next year.
If this year’s all-region teams were designed to highlight the best players in the area, they failed.   
After all, if awards are only going to be harbored for self-interest, what’s the point?

Contact the writer:
Email – ceckl@nevadaappeal.com
Twitter – @CarterEckl


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