Here’s my story Ben Enos and I just finished writing for tomorrow’s paper about today’s NCS realignment meeting. Scroll to the bottom for analysis.
Castro Valley High may remain in the North Coast Section’s Bay Shore Conference after all, perhaps as part of a new configuration of 12-team super leagues.
The NCS Alignment and Classification committee met Monday at Redwood High in Larkspur and forwarded a recommendation that would align the Bay Shore Conference into one eight-team league and two 12-team leagues, one of which would include Castro Valley. That recommendation will be voted on at the NCS Board of Managers meeting on April 18, along with a proposal the Bay Shore Conference originally drafted in October.
Castro Valley applied for and was granted a switch from the Bay Shore to the Valley Conference a year ago in an effort to better satisfy its competitive needs. But the new Bay Shore Conference proposal sparked the interest of Castro Valley enough that it would like to remain the in Bay Shore Conference.
“What they’re discussing now is exactly what we wanted,” Castro Valley athletic director Andy Popper said of a proposal generated from a recent meeting of Bay Shore Conference schools and presented Monday by NCS commissioner Gil Lemmon and HAAL commissioner Dave Kiesel.
Popper said Castro Valley made calls over a year ago to gauge interest in a setup involving large leagues divided into divisions and there was no support for such a configuration, which led to the school’s intended move to the Valley Conference. He said they would’ve never made the move to the Valley if such a proposal was on the table.
The proposal would keep the current Mission Valley Athletic League in tact and add Moreau Catholic. The two new unnamed 12-team leagues would be divided into six-team divisions based on competitive equity. Each division would likley receive an automatic berth to NCS playoffs and its possible the schools in each division could vary by sport.
One league would consist of Alameda, Arroyo, Berkeley, Bishop O’Dowd, Castro Valley, Encinal, Hayward, Mt. Eden, Piedmont, San Leandro, San Lorenzo and Tennyson.
The other would include Albany, De Anza, El Cerrito, Hercules, John Swett, Kennedy-Richmond, Pinole Valley, Richmond, St. Joseph Notre Dame, St. Mary’s, St. Patrick-St. Vincent and Salesian.
The proposal requires Castro Valley to be re-admitted to the Bay Shore Conference, something that requires a vote of both the Bay Shore and Valley Conferences. Lemmon said he’s going to begin the process of organizing that vote.
The alignment committee also forwarded a proposal for the Valley Conference that would maintain status quo. That proposal is based on Castro Valley returning to the Bay Shore Conference.
That will go forward to the NCS Board of Managers along with the Valley Conference’s original proposal from October that placed Castro Valley in the East Bay Athletic League.
Much of Monday’s meeting with the Valley Conference centered on Livermore. At previous realignment meetings, Livermore principal Darrell Avilla spoke in support of finding a better competitive match for the Cowboys than the EBAL.
On Monday, athletic director Rex Anderson said Livermore would support the creation of a 12-team EBAL that would be split into divisions based on competitive equity. If that wasn’t an option, Anderson said the Cowboys would rather stay with the status quo than join the Diablo Foothill Athletic League, citing a potential increase in travel time and loss of class time.
Jimmy: I think overall the proposal going forward for the Bay Shore Conference is a good one. Having two 12-team leagues will provide a lot of flexibility to allow strong programs to compete in a league that is exciting and challenging and weaker programs will be able to avoid constant beatings from far superior teams.
Looking at the league that involves essentially the HAAL teams adding Berkeley, Alameda, Encinal and Piedmont, you’re talking potentially about a basketball league with Berkeley, O’Dowd and Castro Valley? How good is that! And a football league with Berkeley, Encinal, O’Dowd and San Leandro? Yes please. I think this type of league provides strong benefits for those types of programs, but it also allows the Tennysons and San Lorenzos of the world to participate in leagues that give them a shot to compete.
Turning to the other league, I think you’ll end up essentially with most of the private schools playing together, with a couple of the strong public schools added in. Picture basketball that’s already strong with Salesian, St. Joe’s, St. Mary’s and St. Pat’s adding a team like El Cerrito. Then it also would likely allow a boys soccer team such as Richmond the chance to be in a league with the likes of Albany and St. Mary’s. That’s a good thing.
So overall, I very much like that idea. The MVAL basically stays the same, adding back Moreau Catholic. Moreau wants to be in the MVAL and the MVAL seems receptive to adding them back in. So that’s a win-win.
The Valley Conference remains status quo in this proposal from today. Very few people have a problem with that. Livermore would like a league it has a better chance in which to compete, but it admitted today that it prefers the status quo to joining the DFAL, citing travel time.
The one hurdle involves getting Castro Valley re-admitted to the Bay Shore Conference. Gil Lemmon is working on setting up that vote. But even without the vote, he told me the bylaws appears to have wording that would allow the NCS Board of Managers to move CV to the Bay Shore Conference, so I’d say it’s a strong possibility that happens. Stay tuned. The official word comes April 18.
Ben: Having sat in the input meeting last month, then today’s appeals hearing, I really want to say that I think the committee did a very good job of listening, being receptive to outside ideas and making what it felt was the best decision for the students of the Bay Shore and Valley Conferences. I thought Commissioner Lemmon did a good job of disseminating information and making his cases and did a good job of facilitating the meetings.
When we first heard the mention of these “mini-conferences” at the input hearings, I thought this really sounded crazy. I mean, 12-team conferences broken into six-team divisions? But, the more people started thinking about it, the idea really took hold. Credit the committee for keeping an open mind to it, and when somewhere around 20 schools met last week at Bishop O’Dowd to discuss the idea, they came back with a focused proposal today and that made a big difference.
I agree with Jimmy 100 percent. We could get some seriously good leagues out of this deal. We could also see some teams become more competitive. I think the biggest benefit this idea has is at the junior varsity and frosh/soph levels. If you have eight schools with a JV baseball program in your mini-conference, well there’s your league. It cuts down on travel costs and makes scheduling more creative and easier. Reducing travel costs is a big deal now that budget cuts are threatening athletic programs across the state. I think they took a step toward that today.
As the Valley Conference is concerned, I think once Livermore agreed today that moving to the DFAL would create more out-of-class time than it was comfortable with, things opened up to remain the same. I remember the Valley Conference meeting in October when the schools voted 21-9 to simply move Castro Valley into the EBAL. That was a pretty clear sign that 21 schools wanted to stay in the same leagues, and the EBAL voted against it because it created an unwieldy, big league. Now, everyone stays the same and I think you maintain some important rivalries in the process.
All in all, I think it’s a good deal.
Just to recap, here is the new Bay Shore Conference if today’s proposal passes.
MVAL: American, Irvington, James Logan, Kennedy-Fremont, Mission San Jose, Moreau Catholic, Newark Memorial, Washington
New League 1: Alameda, Arroyo, Berkeley, Bishop O’Dowd, Castro Valley, Encinal, Hayward, Mt. Eden, Piedmont, San Leandro, San Lorenzo, Tennyson
New League 2: Albany, De Anza, El Cerrito, Hercules, John Swett, Kennedy-Richmond, Pinole Valley, Richmond, St. Joseph Notre Dame, St. Mary’s, St. Patrick-St. Vincent, Salesian