The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) announced on Aug. 1 that California’s high school sports participation numbers were some of the highest its seen for the seventh straight year.
A sports participation survey found that 814,004 student-athletes participated in high school sports programs throughout the state, an increase of .67% from last year’s survey.
The sport that saw the biggest uptick in participation numbers was soccer adding a combined 3,890 athletes, a 3.87% increase. Volleyball was second garnering 2,292 more players, a 3.47% increase and basketball came in third adding 1,798 student-athletes, a 2.18% increase from the previous year’s numbers.
“When you look at what at the US Women’s National Team has done, especially for the girls they see the women’s team play and want to do that,” said Saugus girls soccer head coach Kevin Miner. “I think we are seeing more and more girls get involved in the sport and it’s something that they can do year-round and continue it in high school and at the club level as well.”
The most popular sport, by far, for boys is 11-man football with 91,305 participants and suffered a 3.16% decrease from last year’s survey, losing 2,981 players. In 2015, football had 103,725 participants and has been on a decline every year since.
Track and field trails football as the second most popular boys sport in California with about 55,335 athletes, soccer comes in with 54,996, basketball had 48,111 and baseball closed the top five boys sports.
“I think it’s definitely because of the more options of the events that are in track and field,” said Golden Valley track and field coach Jalonick Davis, who’s boys team won the Foothill League championship. “From strength in the throws, sprints or the long-distance races, you have different variations of the athlete itself. A lot of kids can find themselves in track and field doing various events or something specific to their strengths.”
Boys volleyball saw the biggest increase in participation numbers across all the boys sports with 1,434 additional participants, an increase of 6.89%.
Girls soccer continues it’s dominance as the most popular sport with 49,342 participants, an increase of 4.56% from last year. Volleyball ranked second with 45,997 participants while girls track and field fell to third.
Girls basketball (35,902) and softball (32,233) closed out the top five girls sports.
“I feel like we have a lot of girls at Saugus and our softball program is really good and our girls basketball program is really good,” Miner said. “I don’t know if the numbers per se are higher in soccer, I think there are maybe more opportunities when girls are younger to play soccer because there are so many different clubs and teams. I just know that you can see lots and lots of soccer games going on.”