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ISSTs expand to include JV teams

Photo courtesy of Nuria Alvarez Martin
The JV girls volleyball team poses with their second place medals after their ISST game hosted by the American School of the Hague Nov. 9-11. This year, JV teams were able to participate in ISSTs, along with middle school and varsity teams.

The International School Sports Tournament has expanded to include middle school and JV competition levels for the first time. Since the tournament’s founding in 1968, ISSTs have been held as end-of-season competitions solely for varsity sports teams across its member schools in Europe.

Director of Athletics John Farmer said athletics directors from all participating schools wanted non-varsity teams to have the opportunity to experience the event.

“All of us agreed, I think, that the ISST was the pinnacle of what was important to us as administrators of athletics programs in terms of the end-of-season events,” Farmer said. “We also believe, as a group of schools, in keeping a very high bar for our student athletes and coaches and teams…If we can maintain this quality, why would we not want that for our middle school and our JV?”

In addition, Farmer said the school wanted to ensure non-varsity players were benefiting from their games as much as varsity players.

“It also became a thing of looking at what kind of experience our athletes were having in the LSSA,” Farmer said. “It’s really frustrating for us when we haven’t got a girls seventh grade basketball team to play against because the other school doesn’t have enough girls to play basketball or they do, and the score is 60-2.”

JV boys soccer captain Max Levine (’25) said the addition of JV ISSTs allows JV players to improve further, thus benefiting the future varsity team.

“Where we are in football right now, you know, we have a lot of good players that are still developing,” Levine said. “It [competing at ISSTs] allows us to kind of develop as players and have a chance to prove why we should be on varsity next year.”

Similarly, JV girls volleyball player Enna Momic (’26) said she was looking forward to playing at ISSTs.

“It’s such a cool opportunity because there’s a lot of JV teams and a lot of people who love volleyball as well, so being able to participate in ISSTs is really cool,” Momic said. “You just get that extra time to play volleyball, which is super fun.”

Farmer said although ISSTs have historically only been varsity teams, the addition of other levels within the tournament should not detract from varsity players’ experiences.

“I’m far less concerned about our varsity athletes feeling like that takes away from their experience, like, they’re playing in a varsity ISST,” Farmer said. “They should be as excited about that as independent of whether or not the people who are in the same sport are going to a different venue to play the same sport at a different level.”

Likewise, Momic said she believes including other competition levels will benefit JV players.

“I see where people come from when they say it, like, shouldn’t have been changed, so it’s only for varsity and it’s something you can work for, but I think it’s a good opportunity for JV to get that extra time to play,” Momic said.

Moreover, Levine said there is no harm in allowing JV teams to participate because the varsity and JV boys soccer teams would not compete against one another.

“I don’t think us playing in ISSTs takes away from varsity because they’re playing in an entirely different tournament than us,” Levine said. “There’s a lot of friends between the two teams, so I don’t think there’s any bad blood.”

Ultimately, Farmer said the addition of JV teams was a strong decision, however, the outcome will only be clear as the teams compete.

“While I am excited about it, that doesn’t mean that it’s going to be perfect right off the bat,” Farmer said. “I think it’s going to be awesome, and I’m so excited that our middle school and JV athletes can go have these incredible experiences that our varsity athletes have been having for over 50 years.”

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About the Contributor
Sophia Bateman
Sophia Bateman, Lead Features Editor
Sophia Bateman (’25) is the Lead Features Editor for The Standard. She joined the newspaper as a staff writer in Grade 9 because she admired collaboration among the staff and wanted a platform to express her voice. Outside of journalism, Bateman leads the Student Ambassador program and enjoys computer science.

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