Let There be Light

Zoning laws prevent Hockaday from providing the soccer team with lights

On a typical December day in Dallas, the sun sets at around 5:20 in the afternoon, and due to the lack of lights on Hockaday’s fields, this can be problematic for the soccer team.

During the spring and fall, typical sports practices run as late as 6:15, but for Hockaday soccer, long practices are a luxury they don’t have. For head soccer coach Rodney Skaife, the lack of lighting is an issue, but is something he as a coach has learned to work around.

“I am usually able to get all my drills in during practice. Where lights really become a concern is that games often have to end early due to the lack of proper lighting, which becomes a safety issue,” said Skaife. “It would be really nice to have lights so that girls wouldn’t have to leave class early on such a regular basis.”

The reason behind the lack of lighting has to do with the area’s zoning laws.

“The City of Dallas has zoning laws that prohibit the lighting of fields unless it is provided for in your current zoning authorization.  Hockaday’s zoning falls under the city’s category of a ‘Planned Development’, so our zoning authorization is called a PD.  Our current PD does not provide for lights,” Mary Pat Higgins, Associate Head and Chief Financial Officer, said.

However, the time the team misses in daily practices is made up outside of school by many girls with their separate select soccer clubs.

“It’s not really like other sports where the practices after school are the only time we play. So much of the team plays outside of school that the lack of school practice isn’t really a concern,” sophomore varsity player Evie said. Junior Chloe, a member of the FC Dallas Soccer Club, said that for her, the limited time she practices compared to other sports is not an issue.

“I think that at least eight girls on the team play outside of school regularly about three times a week,” Chloe said.

Because of the number of participants in multiple soccer teams, it allows for a more relaxed and shorter practice.

“Soccer is just one of those sports that people are very intense about. The Hockaday team takes it pretty seriously, and so I think [Coach Skaife] doesn’t really worry about things like basic skills because he knows we’ll practice those outside of his practice,” Pena said. “It allows for us to do the things that are most essential during our limited practice time.”

The varsity team has managed to clench the  Southwest Preparatory Conference titles last year despite the lack of two hour practices after school, so it could be said that the trust dynamic between the coach and players is working for them, establishing a “don’t fix what isn’t broken” mantra to the lack of lighting.

– Molly