Conflicts at Kissena cause issues for practices

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Overcrowding at Kissena Park’s soccer field has led the boys and girls soccer teams to seek new venues for practice and caused numerous disruptions to league games. 

This season, PSAL scheduled all of the girls’ home games in Corona, a bus ride away, as opposed to their long-established home field: Kissena Park.

Senior captain Dina Goodger said, “We get out [of school] at 3:05 P.M. and then have to rush to change and hustle to the bus. By the time everyone gets to the field, it’s at least 3:50. With games starting at 4 P.M., it’s almost impossible to get a good warmup in with the schedule changes.”

Similarly, the boys team has only two games at Kissena this year. However, they have also experienced problems. In mid-September, on the day before their match against Queens High School of Teaching, the permit for their game at Kissena was given to a charter school, forcing them to travel half an hour away to Creedmore fields to play.

“We had a game in our schedule and they sent the permits over and, when I double checked the permits, we didn’t have the permit date,” said Coach Matthew Curiale. “They didn’t issue the permit date to us even though we were on the schedule.”

When Kissena is closed exclusively for games, both THHS teams often practice on the untrimmed grass next to the field, which presents many dangers to the players.

Senior captain Branco Gamarra said, “The grass field is very bumpy, has many rocks, and we can easily hurt our ankles and get injured.”

Even when the turf field is open, however, they struggle to obtain adequate field space to complete their drills.

“We’ve practiced for the majority of the past three years there [Kissena] with no problem,” senior Hallee Pell-Brown said. “This year, sometimes, we can get an easy spot and get to work with the goal, but other times it’s hard and there’s practically no space to work with.”

Catholic high schools often pay for permits for the fields for practice space while PSAL teams do not have that same privilege.

“They’ve [Catholic schools] had practice permits which, in our neck of the woods, is unheard of. They tell us that you can’t have a permit to practice, but they’re out here practicing and they don’t allow anyone else on the field,” girls soccer Coach Bill Sioukas explained.

As an alternative, Coach Sioukas sometimes holds practice at Forest Hills High School’s field. In order to do this, the girls must take the bus to practice as opposed to walking a few blocks to Kissena.

“It’s definitely annoying when you don’t really have a close field as your home field and it’s made practices inconvenient at times,” said junior Chelsea Chaug.

Over the past few years, however, PSAL has expanded the soccer programs in schools and allowed more teams to enter individual leagues. Coaches Sioukas and Curiale both identify this as the main source of the overcrowding dilemma.

“This year and throughout the last couple of years, it’s been a lot more difficult because the PSAL is allowing more teams to be developed,” Coach Curiale said.

Coach Sioukas added, “It’s too many teams. That’s the problem. We don’t have enough fields. We have x amount of boys teams and x amount of girls teams and the people who pushed for us [girls soccer] to play in the fall are realizing now that oops- we don’t have enough fields.”