UPDATED (3/7) In a close board vote, the Mechanicville City School District Board elected to leave the Colonial Council for Wasaren League. The school district was recently approached by the Wasaren League to replace Schuylerville, which is leaving to join the Foothills Conference.
The vote was 4-3 with board members Waldron, Taglione, Bove, and Grimaldi in favor of the move and Greenhall, Zacher, and Micklas against. The move is likely to take effect in September 2014.
The topic dominated the board meeting with discussion amongst board members being supplemented by Athletic Director Bob Young, Varsity Girls Bowling Coach Joe Yankowski, Modified Girls Basketball Coach Tom Berrigan, and Varsity Girls Basketball Coach Bob Murphy.
Coach Young, also the Varsity Golf Coach, began the discussion with an outline of how the move to the Wasaren League would occur and that the Wasaren League had asked to be notified about a decision by the end of the month. Football will not be effected by the move.
A large part of the discussion centered on girls bowling, since the Wasaren League does not have a girls bowling league. The sport is co-ed in that league. Coach Yankowski’s Lady Raider bowling team has won Section II titles in four of the last six seasons (2009, 2012-2014).
“I’m being parochial here, but if it’s all the same to me, I’d stay Colonial,” Yankowski said. He also agreed that he would be okay with the district making the move as long as bowling could stay in the Colonial Council.
The Wasaren League is made up of school districts in Washington, Saratoga, and Rensselaer Counties (Wa-Sa-Ren). These schools include Stillwater, Hoosic Valley, Greenwich, Hoosick Falls, Cambridge, Tamarac, and Granville. Schuylerville has been in the Wasaren League but will leave next year seeking a higher level of competition than the Wasaren could provide. (See: http://www.saratogian.com/sports/20140128/schuylerville-athletics-intend-to-leave-wasaren-league-for-foothills-council-in-2014-15)
Reasons in favor of the move, described by Bove, Taglione, Waldron, and Grimaldi, included shorter travel time, larger attendance, and more school similarity between Mechanicville and Wasaren League schools than with Colonial. Micklas and Zacher were more cautious about the potential move.
“I’m in favor of the Wasaren,” Board Chairman Waldron said. “I think those schools are more similar to our own.”
“This is a really tough decision,” Waldron added. “There are a lot of different view points on this.”
“Let’s remember that they approached us, we did not approach them,” Micklas said referring to the Wasaren League.
[Correction] – Coach Berrigan brought up an anecdote he had with former athletic director, Gary Lyons, that illustrated the advantages of similar school competition in the Wasaren which should foster a friendlier environment for the student athletes, coaches, and parents alike.
After further discussion about athletic competition and late school nights, Coach Murphy was given time and produced a research document measuring school size, travel time and distance, school spirit, and attendance.
“I’m a facts guy as well, and I just wanted to show you some statistics that show that we should stay in the Colonial Council,” Coach Murphy said before summarizing the document. “I’m in favor of staying in the Colonial and wanted to show that there isn’t much difference in travel time, costs – even though you, [the board], said it is a wash – and other things.”
After closing the discussion, the school board decided that tabling the athletic league decision for the next meeting was not necessary, and the aforementioned 4-3 vote occurred shortly thereafter. In the public comment session after both member of the public Kim Dunn and Coach Murphy expressed their disappointment in the board for not taking the league change into further consideration.
Mechanicville High School is a founding member of the Colonial Council and has been in the league for over 50 years.