Weston Ranch to Join SJAA in Fall of 2022

Weston Ranch High School will move to the San Joaquin Athletic Association (SJAA) for the 2022-2023 school year. Citing a need to create more athletic balance and better equity for its athletic department and teams, the Cougars were voted in and accepted into the SJAA.

“We have been working hard on pursuing WRHS’s entrance into the SJAA for a couple of years now,” said Principal Troy Fast. “We are incredibly excited for the 2022-2023 season and feel that this new journey will be beneficial for our student-athletes and community of WR.”

Leaving the Valley Oak League helps Weston Ranch immediately. First, the Cougars will benefit from playing in the SJAA because the SJAA offers the Cougars more balanced competition. The VOL showed the highest levels of competition at all levels, but the Cougars found themselves struggling to keep up with schools like Manteca, Central Catholic, and Oakdale. However, the move to the SJAA puts Weston Ranch in a more balanced league that will offer Weston Ranch student-athletes a better opportunity to compete in all sports across the board. Second, leaving the VOL creates an opportunity for the Cougars to plan for the future. Knowing that all sports have a new league to compete in and new teams to play will excite the athletic programs and the campus.

“This is a good move for our school because it creates equity among ALL sports we offer,” said Athletic Director Marcelo Zamarripa.

The move to the SJAA also means the Cougars will go from Division 3 to Division 1 to compete against Bear Creek, McNair, Stagg, Edison, Franklin, Chavez, and Linden. Edison is one of the premier high school football programs in the State. Bear Creek is home to one of the better baseball programs in the Sac-Joaquin Section. So, while the move was approved unanimously by the CIF Board, VOL, and SJAA, the Cougars know that the SJAA will be ready for them and not be so friendly when August rolls around.

“We will benefit several ways,” said Cougars head football coach Ron Wayman. “It helps our athletes be more competitive. We play the teams from the SJAA in the passing league, so our kids get to know them. Finally, it helps us out emotionally knowing we’re playing familiar faces. Emotionally, kids get excited about playing games against their friends.”

It will certainly help when it comes to travel.  Keeping travel costs down (five of the seven schools are in Stockton; One is in Lodi; One is in Linden) will enable Weston Ranch to save money on transportation, thus keeping operation costs down.  Less travel also means schools are closer, thus creating more community involvement and better chances for families to attend games.

“Our farthest game is Linden,” Wayman said.  “The move to the SJAA means the community has a better chance to be involved.  No longer making the long trips to Oakdale and Modesto means parents can see their kids play.  That makes a big difference in the attitudes of the kids.”

The move to Division 1 also piqued the interest of head baseball coach David Hager.

“The move to the SJAA will provide Weston Ranch a more significant opportunity to compete and succeed at a higher level, which, in turn, will give the campus culture a lot of pride. The baseball program looks forward to the new challenge but will miss the high level of competition we were used to in the VOL.”

Head girls basketball coach Damion McMiller added, “I look forward to the move and hope to keep the same positive attitude in the SJAA. Our coaches here work hard to get these kids ready, and hopefully, with a new start in the SJAA, we can make a statement.”

So, it’s another new beginning for Weston Ranch High School in the Fall. Of course, there will be some growing pains, but the promise of new schools and new rivalries should be exciting to witness.

 

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