RC sports teams ready to roll
Some squads begin practice on August 18
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By Michael Moritz  August 7, 2014 11:57 am

As the summer months draw to a close, Rancho Cotate High School’s fall sports offer some students a smooth transition back into the school year.  RCHS has seven athletic programs going during the fall, making it easy for any student to get involved.

Girls tennis, golf, volleyball and soccer teams start practicing for their seasons Aug. 18, along with co-ed cross country and boys soccer.

Rancho Cotate saw a number of talented athletes graduate in 2014, leaving some of the teams with young but promising rosters this season.

Girls varsity volleyball will begin this season with sophomore  Kaela Velles and junior Patty Ward in the starting line up.  Their first game is Aug. 26 against Terra Linda and should provide fans with a preview of what this year’s squad is capable of by the time the North Bay League competition rolls around.

The boys’ soccer team also features a young and rejuvenated team, so don’t miss their first home game Aug. 26 at 6 p.m. against El Molino of Forestville. Dates for cross country and girls soccer will be announced soon.

Football practice kicks off Aug.11, with the Cougars’ first game Sept. 5 at Alhambra High School in Martinez.  Rancho Cotate last year defeated Alhambra 21-14 in the season opener. Rancho Cotate Athletic Director Henri Sarlatte feels the Cougars will bounce back from last year’s 6-5 season, which ended with a 32-10 loss to Windsor in the opening round of the North Coast Section Div. II playoffs.

“It’s going to be a competitive North Bay League, but we’ll definitely be good,” Sarlatte said.

Sarlatte has headed the athletics department at Rancho for eight years now, carrying on the legacy of his father, who served as AD from 1984-1999.  Before his time at RCHS, he gained experience as intern athletic director at Natomas High School in Sacramento.  He’s also coached football, track, and basketball.

Over the last decade Rancho has earned a reputation for having one of the finest high school athletics programs in the county.  The overwhelming community involvement RCHS sports receive is what separates them from other schools, according to Sarlatte.

“Everyone wants to think their school runs the best program, but that’s not necessarily how it works,” he said. “I’m very proud of the community and especially the parents for all the support we’ve received.”

The success of the Rancho Cotate sports program relies heavily on team parents and support from local businesses he explained.

Despite the budget cuts to extracurricular activities that schools are facing nationwide, the Cougars have been lucky enough to offer their students three new sports in the last few years, making it a very exciting time in Rancho athletics.

The addition of a girls wrestling team has produced local legends such as Kayla Aggio and Vicky Espinoza.  More standouts are expected to appear in a different sport this spring, as lacrosse is finally sanctioned by the state’s high school sports governing body, the California Interscholastic Federation, for both girls and boys.

After years of anticipation, Rancho Cotate, along with Petaluma and Casa Grande, will be the first public schools in Sonoma County to offer lacrosse.  The Rancho Cotate lacrosse club has agreed to help get the program started, and a coaching staff is currently being reviewed.  The schools mentioned above will form a league with Cardinal Newman and Sonoma Academy, and most likely will compete against schools from Marin County.

Members of the Rancho Cotate volleyball and football teams have been conditioning all summer, but other fall sports practice on a voluntary basis.  During this time, the school rents out its facilities to club teams, which are usually comprised of their own varsity athletes looking to stay in shape.  Open gyms have also attracted wrestlers and basketball players from the surrounding area to prepare themselves for the winter.  The offseason routines of all high school athletes are now facing a time crunch however, as the first day of school approaches them like it does every year…too soon.  

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