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A first: Ripon High soccer using own field for game
Ripons varsity soccer team lines up before the opening kick-off for their first game ever in the 16 year history of the sport to actually be played on campus. - photo by HIME ROMERO

These are exciting times for the Ripon High girls soccer program.

For the first time in their 16 years history, the Indians were playing on campus under the lights at the recently renovated Stouffer Field.

“It was special today just see them play in front of their school mates,” said Bryce Perkins, who has been the RHS assistant coach under Jose Bobadilla since 2003.

Never mind that the match against Hilmar didn’t have the state-of-the-arts scoreboard in operation nor music playing from the stadium sound system. Those were minor compared to where the program had been nearly 10 years earlier.

“If someone told me back then that we’d be playing here today I don’t think I would’ve believed it,” Perkins said.

For that, the RHS program is thankful to the efforts of the Ripon Community Athletic Foundation under the efforts of Vince and Stephanie Hobbs, and the RHS administration under the leadership of Principal Lance Morrow.

“This was an historic moment,” said Stephanie Hobbs, who made it a point back in 2007 to mention the soccer program to the school board during the grass-root stages of RCAF.

“Her daughter came to RHS and decided to play soccer,” recalled Perkins. “From that point on, the team and its prospects of playing in the stadium found shelter under the wings of Vince and Stephanie Hobbs.

“It didn’t hurt that the 2007 team went 25-1-1.”

The girls program had used a variety of venues since its inception, including Ripon Elementary and the Ripon Community Center during the early years (1997 through 2000), Stouffer Park (upper field 2001-02, lower field 2003), Ripon Christian School (2004-08), Park View Elementary School (2009-11) and the Mistlin Sports Complex (2012-13).

In a scheduled game against Summerville on March 12, 2004, RHS cancelled the game – a coaching decision and not an administrative decision, said the Ripon Unified school board – due to a scheduling conflict with Ripon Christian High.

Perkins wrote in a commentary back then: “Ripon’s soccer staff and athletes were frustrated with the cancelation. ‘This is ridiculous,’ stated freshman Shayna Jacobs as she pointed towards Stouffer Field. ‘Everyone in the section uses their stadium field for girls soccer, but in Ripon only (the boys) football team gets to use the stadium…It’s not fair.’”

He called this a violation of Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, indicating that “the benefits, opportunities, treatments afforded to male and female sports participants are to be equivalent, but not necessary identical.”

Some the fields used by the Indians lacked changing facilities. “In 2003, the lower field at Stouffer Park was in such poor conditions that the home game against Hughson only went off when both coaching staff agreed to hold the officials blameless for injuries,” said RHS assistant coach.

The girls’ soccer program did receive permission from the school board to play two night games a year at the stadium as part of the aftermath from the 2004 scheduling conflict at RC. “But that never came into fruition,” said Perkins.

Those memories are in the distant past.

“This is an exciting time,” said Perkins prior to the game against Hilmar. “We’re finally playing a home game under the lights.

“More importantly, we’re playing for first place (in the Trans Valley League).”