By Alejandro Salinas
Following a successful 2015-16 athletic year that included four CIF Titles and two State Titles, Loyola was awarded its eighth Commissioner’s Cup in school history. Loyola is the only all-boys school to have earned this award eight times, including five consecutive awards from the 2008-09 school year to 2012-13 when the school last won the award.
According to CIF, “Winners are determined by a point system that provides five points for a divisional championship, three points for a divisional runner-up finish, two points for advancing to the semifinal round or third place finish in a team-place finish sport and one point for a fourth place finish in a team-place finish sport.”
Out of the 580 schools in CIF, Loyola captured 25 points placing them first and 10 points ahead of Great Oak and Saddleback Valley Christian who tied for second place with 15 points.
O’Donnell also believes it takes a combined effort to win a Commissioner’s Cup. “The parents have to send their kids here and entrust the coaches with their sons,” said O’Donnell. “The coaches have to be knowledgeable and dedicated enough to the sport, the athletes have to be good enough and want to be dedicated, and the administration needs to support it. Without one part, it doesn’t happen.”
In varsity soccer last season, the Cubs won not only the CIF Southern Section Division I Title, awarding the school five points, but also the CIF State Division I SoCal Regional Title. In addition to earning team titles, former co-captain Elliot Smith-Hastie ‘16 was also named an All-American, Gatorade Player-of-the-Year and CIF Division I Player-of-the-Year. Head coach Chris Walter ‘93 was also named the CIF Division I Coach-of-the-Year.
The varsity golf team won the CIF Central Division Title for the fifth consecutive year, awarding Loyola another five points. Sophomore Parker Lestz was a CIF Southern California Golf Association Regional finalist and Brandon Bueno ‘16 was a CIF individual qualifier and will play golf for University of California, Santa Barbara, this year.
In swimming and diving, Loyola swimmers “posted All-American times in five individual events,” according to CIF, en route to a CIF Division I swimming and diving Title, which awarded five points to Loyola. The Cubs’ 4×400 yard freestyle relay team finished in 3:02.63, ranking it 10th across the nation. The 200 yard medley relay and freestyle relay teams were both ranked 16th in the nation.
The volleyball team also contributed five points to Loyola after winning the CIF Division I Title for the 12th time in school history. Along with leading his team to a CIF Title, Casey McGarry ‘16 was named an All-American and CIF Division I Player-of-the-Year, McGarry committed to play volleyball at UCSB. Head coach Michael Boehle ‘81 was named CIF Division I Coach-of-the-Year.
Contributing two points each, the varsity basketball and varsity water polo teams were semifinalist in CIF competition. The cross-country team finished fourth in CIF, awarding one point to the school; however, the team went on to win the CIF Division II State Title a week later.
The lacrosse team made their own history last season, winning the U.S. Lacrosse Southern Section Title game and becoming the first team from Los Angeles to win the Title. Since fewer than the required 20 percent of schools in CIF play lacrosse, CIF does not support lacrosse and, therefore, did not award Loyola any points for their win.
Athletic director Chris O’Donnell said, “[This award] paints a pretty good picture [of our athletic program], but not a complete one.”
O’Donnell, who has witnessed all eight Commissioner’s Cups under his tenure, said, “I’m proud of the fact that this award shows that we value every sport. Every sport is valued and popular in its own way because the teams do well.”
He hopes Loyola’s emphasis on valuing every sport will continue to inspire families to join the Cub tradition. O’Donnell said, “[The Commissioner’s Cup] shows families that want to come here that we value every sport.”
Despite the success his athletic program has had over the past years, O’Donnell believes in constantly improving the athletic sites. “My hope is to expand our facilities, which will allow for the most efficient and meaningful practices possible,” said O’Donnell.
“Sometimes athletics and academics conflict so if we could do our part to get the athletes home earlier, it would help.”
Specifically, O’Donnell hopes to expand the gym to allow for more teams to practice at the same time from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. after school, thereby avoiding having teams waiting until after 5 p.m. to begin practice.
He hopes Loyola’s emphasis on valuing every sport will continue to inspire families to join the Cub tradition. “I think at the end of the year, [the Commissioner’s Cup]is a nice recruiting tool. It’s a nice thing that we can show families that want to come here that we value every sport.”