City of Woodlake cheers on high school sports teams

The Woodlake High School boys’ soccer team, who won the 2024 Central Section Championship.(Rigo Moran)

Woodlake City Council celebrates high school sports teams for achievements, recognizes the positive impact of youth sports programs on the community

WOODLAKE – The city of Woodlake cheered on its high school sports teams at its most recent city council meeting to celebrate all of their hard work as well as recognize the community as the youth’s strongest defense.

On March 25, Woodlake City Council went out of their way to recognize the high school sports teams for the benefits they have to the community. The teams were presented with certificates and also received thanks from Tulare County Supervisor Eddie Valero.

“We’re going to recognize some very important members of the community, and that is our student athletes,” Woodlake Mayor Rudy Mendoza said. “The recognition program on behalf of the City of Woodlake…it’s for all of you. Not only the players, but also the parents, the coaching staff, the support staff and friends and family,”

While extending his own congratulatory statements to the youth teams, Supervisor Valero also passed on some words of wisdom.

“Continue to dream big, work hard and give back,” Valero said. “Great things do come out of Woodlake, and this is a shining example of that because you’re building that legacy for the next generation.”

Representatives from the different teams shared with the council what their season was like this year. The assistant soccer coach spoke about what this season was like given that the boy’s soccer team won the Central Section Championship.

“The last time we won a Valley championship, or sectioned championship, was back when I was in high school my freshman year 2011,” he said. “We really appreciate the support calls…I’ve been working hard with the boys during the summer, during the off season, for us to move forward.”

Assistant wrestling coach Daniel Hallmeyer explained all the progress the town’s wrestling team made this year as well.

“Our kids are very thankful for all the support that we’re getting from the city,” Hallmeyer said. “We had a successful season as a team this year. We completed our third consecutive league championship for the boys and our second in a row for the girls.”

One student from the volleyball team, Sarah, explained the big changes that the team has undergone in the last year.

“We were lucky enough to get a great coach, Miss Michelle Archuleta, after many years of a not so very successful season,” Sarah said. “We were able to bring a co-championship for our East Sequoia (League), which hasn’t been done since 2017.”

(Rigo Moran)

The volleyball coach also expressed her pride in the students and gave words of gratitude to the community.

“I’ve been coaching volleyball for over 15 years. These girls have a very dear place in my heart. It’s my first team here at Woodlake and I love them,” Archuleta said. “The school board, the district office – everybody has been so supportive, so thank you all very much. I’m very proud of these girls.”

Mayor Mendoza furthered the conversation by drawing attention to the importance behind the city encouraging sports and recreation in town, especially in terms of supporting its youth teams.

“Unfortunately, as we’ve seen, over the years, parents aren’t always able to attend sporting events,” Mendoza said. “So this is one way for us, as a city, to recognize you.”

He continued to explain that almost all of the high school students at the meeting had – at one time or another – participated in the parks and recreation programs through the city. The city originally used these programs as “feeder” programs to encourage students to be involved in something productive after school.

Woodlake City Manager Ramon Lara also drew attention to how the parks and recreation program has impacted high school sports.

“When our kids are getting to middle school in high school now, they really do have the fundamentals for all the sports that we offer, and we’re seeing a direct benefit of that at the school level,” Lara said.

He explained that the city started offering sports through the parks and recreation program to encourage the kids to stay out of trouble by instead getting them involved in sports.

“When they get out of school, we get to have something for them to do. That’s why you see the city and the school working on a lot of joint projects,” Lara said. “At the end of the day the direct benefit is to the kids.”

He continued to explain that before Woodlake had these programs, the residents would have to take their kids to different cities to participate in sports. Now the city has community parks the kids can enjoy and multiple sports programs they can join including baseball, softball, soccer, basketball, flag football, swimming and dance.

The city is continuing to work on expanding its programs and making them more engaging. At the last city council meeting, the city presented new logos for the city’s softball and baseball teams, which incorporate more Latin influence into the team names such as “The Toros.”

“Eventually we’re going to rebrand all of our little kid’s teams with Latin Alter Ego names,” Woodlake Recreation Director Jennifer Reynolds said.

In emailed statements to The Sun-Gazette, she explained that she thought the rebrand would be a great idea for a community like Woodlake.

“I already know of a few teams who are completely embracing their new identities,” Reynolds said. “For example, the middle school-aged softball team, ‘Lloronas,’ plan to paint their faces like skulls.”

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