By Jeff Gallatin
Bay Village and Rocky River appear to be on the way to having an athletic conference again.
Bay Village Board of Education members unanimously approved at the Nov. 25 school board meeting applying for an as-yet-unnamed athletic conference, which would begin play in 2015-2016 or as soon thereafter as possible. Officials said in addition to Bay and Rocky River high schools, the other five charter members would be Elyria Catholic, Holy Name and a trio of Parma public schools – Normandy, Parma and Valley Forge high schools, along with their associated middle schools. Bay officials said the members will continue to try to find an eighth member, with one having at least one middle school deemed more desirable since the two Catholic schools, Elyria Catholic and Holy Name, don’t have specific middle schools associated with them.
Bay High School Principal Jason Martin and athletics Director Matthew Spellman outlined the plans to the board.
“It all came together very fast in the last few weeks,” Martin said.
Bay’s search for a new conference became necessary because of the rapid disintegration of the West Shore Conference, which would be down to four members by 2015. Bay, Elyria Catholic and Rocky River all are members of the West Shore Conference. Bay and Rocky River school district officials have consistently said they wanted to be part of any new league together, and have also maintained good relations with Elyria Catholic. The Parma public schools in the proposed new group, which have been a part of the Northeast Ohio Conference, also were forced in recent months to begin seeking a new conference because many old ones are rapidly changing or altering.
Bay and Rocky River thought they had a good chance of being part of a revamped Greater Cleveland Conference with several school districts from the Chagrin Valley area, and had taken steps toward being in the same league with those schools. But the eastern schools rejected the Bay and Rocky River schools several weeks ago, saying they did not want to have to travel that far to athletic events. Spellman said that shouldn’t be a problem with the proposed new league, noting Normandy would be the farthest away from Bay Village, at 27 miles.
Martin said the schools weren’t going to rush into accepting an eighth member for the proposed new league.
“We want to make sure we have the right fit,” he said, emphasizing that the eighth member having a middle school was a high priority.
He said the proposed new conference members have already begun some discussions about league bylaws and rules, and were looking to have the members willing to keep the league intact for at least six years. When asked by board members about possibly going to 10 schools, Martin said the initial plans are to go for eight members in the conference.
Board Vice President Bill Selong asked if there was the potential for any disparity in competition because one or two schools were significantly larger than the others. Spellman said that shouldn’t happen, because the seven schools are of a comparable size, with Bay currently being the smallest public school district in the proposed group.
Martin said officials would provide additional updates to the board as the proposed league progresses.