By Joe Ostrica
A collective sigh of relief could be heard throughout North Ridgeville last week as the Rangers were accepted as the final members of the Southwestern Conference for the start of the 2015-16 school year. North Ridgeville, which was rejected after its initial application earlier this year, got the green light once
Brecksville submitted its resignation.
“We are thrilled that the SWC selected North Ridgeville as a member school,” North Ridgeville athletic director Matt Yunker said. “Since the announcement was made, there has been a great deal of excitement among our school, our athletes and our coaches. The feedback we’ve been getting from the community is equally as exciting. There are some great things taking place in North Ridgeville, and this adds to the excitement.”
That excitement must have been hectic for the Ranger faithful. When Avon, Midview and Lakewood opted to leave the West Shore Conference and were accepted into the SWC earlier this year, that left the Rangers with just three other schools in the WSC: Bay, Rocky River and Elyria Catholic. The writing was on the wall that the WSC would become extinct soon and North Ridgeville’s future in a competitive league that was a good fit was looking grim.
“With the uncertainty of the WSC after next year, our biggest fear was not having a conference home,” Yunker said. “Our goal was to get this figured out as soon as possible, simply, so we could have a sense of direction for the 2015 school year.”
Current SWC members Avon Lake, Amherst, North Olmsted, Olmsted Falls and Westlake will remain. Midpark and Berea combined this year into one school. The addition of Avon, Lakewood and Midview brought the league to 10, but with Brecksville jumping ship to the blank blank conference, that gave North Ridgeville a second shot at joining the SWC.
“This was without a doubt the outcome we were looking for,” Yunker said. “From a competitive balance standpoint, it’s a great fit for us. We feel that there are a lot of similarities between North Ridgeville and the other nine schools that will be in the SWC. Obviously from a geographical perspective, we couldn’t ask for a better situation.
“I feel like there are a lot of similarities between North Ridgeville and the other nine schools that will be in the SWC starting in 2015. All of our athletic programs are taking steps in the right direction, so this will be a great opportunity to play against teams that are very similar to ours.”
SWC commissioner Michael McCarhty said having 10 teams in the SWC was a key factor.
“We look forward to the addition of North Ridgeville to the mix as an outstanding replacement for Brecksville,” he said in a press release. “North Ridgeville is yet another fine school, which adds geographic and competitive stability and enhances an already oustanding mix of schools located on the south and west sides of the Greater Cleveland area.
“The Southwestern Conference strives to provide superior competitive opportunities and promote sportsman-like relations for its student athletes and to provide a well-rounded mix of other opportunities and activities for its non-athletes. This new grouping of 10 members will allow us to continue to provide those opportunities going forward.”
Yunker said the Rangers are thrilled to join the SWC and can’t wait to join some familiar teams, and especially closer ones in proximity, in two years.
“This is truly an exciting opportunity for our athletic programs at North Ridgeville,” he said. “We’ve had a great experience in the WSC and we look forward to finishing our commitment to the conference next year, but at the same time we can’t wait to get started with the SWC.”
Current Southwestern Conference teams
2015-16 Southwestern Conference