ISL to PVAC: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly



Photo Credits: Jean Gearon

Maya Long, Staff Writer

I have been playing varsity soccer for two years now. Coming into my freshman year, I knew the league was going to be a challenge for my team and I. That being said, the women’s varsity soccer team went away with a record of 6-2 and a difficult loss in the quarterfinals. To other schools in the ISL, Sandy Spring is looked down upon for our athletics. Our teams have never been the best in the league and we often end up on the wrong side of the score. Ever since the women’s teams decided to switch over from the PVAC (Potomac Valley Athletic Conference) to the ISL (Independent School League) for all sports, there have been talks of switching back.


As a player, the idea of the ISL is both intimidating and exciting and your perspective is often shaped by the team you’re on. As a soccer player, I believe the idea of being in the ISL is the right choice as we have been able to prove ourselves as competitors against other schools. As a new player to the basketball program, I believe the opposite, as the women’s varsity basketball team has never had the best luck within the ISL. My opinions are not completely shared by my teammates on the soccer team though. One of my soccer teammates argued, “I think we should because in the ISL, most of our teams lose. If we switched to the PVAC, the games would be more evenly matched and we would have more of a chance to win.” I understand exactly where she is coming from: the idea of winning and having a fighting chance is something we all enjoy.


When asked about the advantages and disadvantages of switching to the PVAC, coach Eduardo Polon responded with the statement, “The primary advantage of joining a conference similar to the PVAC is schools of like-sized population and athletic mission statements. A disadvantage is aligning ourselves with schools whose academic profiles are different then SSFS. While SSFS and the ISL members are largely incompatible athletically from facilities, programmatic and player pool perspectives, we are quite compatible academically.” While the ISL is made up of schools equal to us in academics – something we all should be proud of – are we really willing to give up winning and competing for academic compatibility?


As someone who is competitive and doesn’t like to back down from a challenge, I would miss the thrill and accomplishment I feel after putting all I had on the field, playing my best, and still losing. In some ways, this is more satisfying than winning a game where our team didn’t play to our potential. As a member of the SSFS community and a member of multiple teams, I believe we should switch with the exception that SSFS be able to continue to receive the respect we deserve from an academic point of view. No matter the decision, whatever is decided, the women’s sports program will persevere, fight, and come to every game playing like champions.