The opportunity to play against closer schools on a regular basis and make more money doing it is appealing to any high school.
Medina is happy with its athletic partnership with the Northeast Ohio Conference, but it also is exploring the possibility of joining the Suburban League.
Medina Athletic Director Jeff Harrison confirmed that his school is looking into making a change after attending a Suburban League meeting last month.
“We are a happy member of the NOC, however we received an invitation to attend the Suburban League’s informational meeting and we attended,” Harrison said. “We replied back that we have a very strong interest. The main reason is proximity. When I drove to that meeting, I drove through five school districts in the Suburban League. We are a happy member of the NOC, but my duty to the coaches, athletes, fans and community is to do what is best for Medina and look at our options.”
Harrison said Suburban League Commissioner Keith Walker and Highland Principal-Suburban League President Dana Addis hosted the meeting in Tallmadge. Addis formerly found success as Copley’s boys basketball coach.
“I drove from my house in Medina and went through Wadsworth, Highland, Copley, Revere and Tallmadge,” Harrison said. “We have 122 miles round-trip from Medina to Mentor. They are a great league member in the NOC, but if I am a casual fan, I am probably not going to drive to Mentor to watch a Medina game. We are weighing out our options and eagerly awaiting what lies ahead.”
The NOC has 18 schools divided into three divisions, the Valley, the River and the Lake. Medina is in the NOC Valley Division in several sports and in the River in others. Medina regularly plays against schools such as Mentor, Shaker Heights, Mayfield and Garfield Heights that are not close in terms of driving distance.
Summit County schools Stow, Hudson, Cuyahoga Falls and Twinsburg are also in the NOC along with Medina County school Brunswick. Stow, Hudson, Cuyahoga Falls and Twinsburg have also been mentioned in talks to join the Suburban League.
Harrison said he would like to play those four Summit County schools on a regular basis, possibly in the Suburban League, and also maintain rivalries with Brunswick and Strongsville, who could be non-league opponents in the future.
Several schools in the NOC have voiced their concerns over travel and attendance.
Suburban League members Cloverleaf, Copley, Highland, Nordonia, Revere, Tallmadge and Wadsworth are all happy and going to stay. Current member Green is deciding whether to stay in the Suburban or jump to the Federal League.
Walker has discussed possibly having two conferences-divisions in the Suburban League, a larger enrollment and smaller enrollment. He invited 12 schools: Medina, Stow, North Royalton, Hudson, Cuyahoga Falls, Brecksville-Broadview Heights, Twinsburg, Barberton, Kent Roosevelt, Aurora, Kenston and Ravenna to the meeting. Solon was not invited but expressed interest via an email.
Harrison expects another Suburban League meeting in the second or third week of August. Several administrators from schools are on vacation with families in July.
Walker said a new Suburban League could be a go as early as 2015-2016, but he cautioned that because several of the schools are currently in other leagues that a lot of paper work and discussions would have to take place.
Officials from Kent Roosevelt and Ravenna confirmed they attended a meeting for the Suburban League, but that neither school applied and both are happy in the Portage Trail Conference Metro Division.
Kent Roosevelt Athletic Director Mark Pfaff said he, Roosevelt Principal Bob Klinar and Kent City Schools Assistant Superintendent Tom Larkin attended the Suburban League meeting.
“We did not apply,” Pfaff said. “What it was, was more of an information meeting. That is why Roosevelt attended. We are happy in the PTC. It is a good league. The athletic directors and administrators are really good in the league. We got the invitation [to the Suburban League meeting] and decided to attend and listen. We came away impressed with their presentation, but we are not looking to leave the PTC.
“The small school division, if you will, of the Suburban League did interest us. It is an intrigue more than anything. It is not like we are looking to leave or being kicked out of the PTC.”
Pfaff said he and other Kent administrators will continue to gather information and then get input from people within the community.
Ravenna Athletic Director Dave McBee said his school is content in the PTC after attending informational meetings involving other options.
“We are pretty happy with our current situation in the PTC,” McBee said. “We attended meetings with the Suburban League and with schools such as Aurora and Kenston [who will be leaving the Chagrin Valley Conference in two years], and we were the smallest school [in enrollment] at both meetings. We would like to avoid being the smallest school in a league.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.