PORT ANGELES — It wasn’t the Hunt for Red October but it was close.
Call it the hunt for the missing girls soccer team.
Soccer parents Andrew May and Carmen Czachor split up in different cars during a rainy and cool Tuesday afternoon looking for an under-14 girls soccer team that was supposed to start practice at 4:30 p.m.
May and Czachor’s 13-year-old son, Spencer, had practiced with the girls’ team about three times and wanted to play for the group.
The team had practiced at Stevens Middle School, where Spencer is an eighth-grader.
But the squad was no where in sight at 4:30 p.m., and so the parents split up looking for it, assuming the team was practicing in secret.
The night before, Port Angeles Youth Soccer Club officials had asked the soccer parents via e-mail to stay away from the girls team because their son was not welcome to play on it.
But May and Czachor told the Peninsula Daily News on Monday night that they planned to show up at the soccer field and insist that their son practice with the team.
May and Czachor assumed youth soccer officials had moved the practice to a secret site to avoid a confrontation.
May, however, said they weren’t trying to cause a disturbance.
“We can’t make any claim if we don’t try to get on the field,” May said.
In other words, “until we get kicked off the field,” there is no claim, he added.
Actually finding the field to be kicked off of became the hard part Tuesday afternoon.
The soccer club resumed the spring season Monday after a two-week delay and most teams started practicing again Tuesday.
Soccer officials suspended the season after Spencer May started practicing with the girls team. The U14 boys season was canceled earlier because not enough males signed up for the league.
The Port Angeles Youth Soccer Club, or PAYSC, used to allow coed teams for all ages until a year ago when it banned coed squads for the older age groups.
May and Czachor claimed it was sex discrimination for Spencer to be banned from playing on a girls team.
PAYSC stopped the season while it studied the legal ramifications.
Club president Darin Reidel e-mailed May and Czachor on Monday night that the organization decided it was not doing anything wrong or illegal and would continue the ban on Spencer playing on a girls team.
That started the Tuesday afternoon Hunt for the Missing Girls Team.
For 20 to 25 minutes, the parents drove all over Port Angeles, visiting school and public athletic fields looking for the girls practice.
They came up empty-handed.
May was back at the Stevens field at 4:45 p.m. when a club official drove up.
“He said the start of practice had been postponed for that team,” May said.
The parents also found out Tuesday evening that PAYSC is looking at having an academy soccer team for Spencer and other youngsters.
Academy soccer does not have league games but rather is structured for various ball-handling and other kinds of drills.
“It’s more of an intense kind of soccer,” May said.
Happy with idea
May and Czachor are happy with the academy soccer idea.
“That’s a good thing,” May said. “I’m finally encouraged.
“We’re fired up but at the same time they told us this before.”
Academy soccer was one of the options PAYSC offered May and Czachor early in the negotiations between the parents and the club, but two days later the club cut off communications and tried to refund Spencer’s registration money.
The parents refused the refund.
“They could have established the academy team four weeks ago and avoided this mess, the postponement of the season and everything,” May said.
Contacting city, county
May and Czachor have already submitted letters to Port Angeles city and Clallam County officials asking that the government agencies sever their relationships with PAYSC until the youth club conforms to state discrimination laws.
The couple asked that the agencies hold off on doing anything for a couple of days to see if PAYSC will offer academy soccer for boys who aren’t on teams.
May said the club needs to find a certain number of players in order to offer the academy team.
“We told the city and county that we may call you in a day or two and say the issue is moot,” May said.
Meanwhile, PAYSC has extended the season two weeks to make up for the two-week postponement.
“We have received permission allowing the club extended use of the fields,” Reidel wrote in an e-mail to the PDN on Tuesday night.
Reidel also confirmed that the club is trying to set up academy soccer.
“During the postponement, the board solicited John Leslie, a highly respected local player and coach,” Reidel wrote.
“We are delighted that he has offered to share his knowledge and skills with the small group of boys who were affected by limited enrollment.”
Already seven boys said they are interested in the skills academy, Reidel wrote. “I believe the May boys have committed to participate.”
Andrew May said that both his sons want to take part.
“We hope that this solution will allow us to refocus on the benefits of soccer in the community, and move the club forward in a positive direction,” Reidel wrote.
Spencer wants to play
Spencer May, meanwhile, said he just wants to play soccer.
The middle school student, who also is taking fencing and guitar lessons, said he has been playing soccer since he was 4 and wants to eventually play on the high school varsity team.
Spencer said he doesn’t bother him to play on a girls team.
Most of the girls were acceptable of his practicing with the team, he said.
Despite attending a middle school, Spencer said he hasn’t been picked on or teased by his peers.
“Some girls are upset because they thought the spring season might get cancelled,” Spencer May said.
What will he do if he can’t play soccer this spring?
“I might go out for track,” he said.
________Sports Editor Brad LaBrie can be reached at 360-417-3525 or at [email protected]