By Rob Tucker
News that the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association has decided to realign its leagues for the coming high school sports seasons is being met, as expected, with mixed reactions amongst area coaches.
But whether or not a particular coach finds himself in the net-positive or net-negative camp, one thing that most agree on is that the CCAA's decision to group schools by geographical location, for the most part ignoring class, will very likely impact the playoffs.
"That's probably the one thing you hear the most," said Southwestern boys soccer coach Mark Sleggs, who has thus far reserved judgement on the CCAA's decision, ''that it may be a lot more difficult (for upper-class) teams to host a playoff game."
Fredonia coach Vince Gullo, who recently guided his Hillbillies to the New York State Public High School Class B state baseball title, is convinced it will.
"By playing 'C' schools, we'll lose power points," he said. "In effect, it could jeopardize our earning a home playoff game. We were the two seed this year, and if we had had the same amount of wins (playing in the new divisions) we'd have been a three seed. That means our semifinal game against JFK would have been in Cheektowaga on an unfamiliar field."
"The 'B' schools are a little upset," he added. "It may help the 'C' schools, but it doesn't make sense for us."
It's that argument, in fact, that in part led, according to reports from the Olean Times Herald, to the Olean Huskies boys basketball team leaving the CCAA and instead opting to play an independent schedule for at least the next year.
What's more, the new alignments have also caused the demise of some of the more interesting rivalries of the past few seasons; like, for instance, Frewsburg-Randolph in girls basketball, or Southwestern-Olean in boys soccer.
See REALIGNMENT, Page B2
From Page B1
"I'm going to definitely miss the rivalries that we've had with teams (in the old league)," Frewsburg girls basketball coach Jeff Collver said. "That core of Cassadaga Valley, Silver Creek, Chautauqua Lake and Randolph has been the same pretty much since I started coaching 17 years ago. Those teams have been our biggest rivals."
Now, most of those are spread out across three divisions, with Frewsburg in the West 1 Division with Silver Creek, Cassadaga Valley in the West 2 and Randolph in the East 1.
But while there are what appear to be negatives to the move, there seem to be positives as well.
Travel, according to Sherman athletic director and girls basketball coach Mel Swanson, looks to be cut down considerably, which will not only save schools money, but also make life easier for athletes by getting them home at a decent hour.
"The coaches in the league Sherman is in (West 2 for most sports, along with Cassadaga Valley, Chautauqua Lake, Westfield, Panama, Brocton and Clymer) are pretty happy, and they like the competitiveness of (the new division). They also like that the longest trip on a school night will be 30 minutes, and no one's going to be getting back home during basketball season at 11:30 p.m. on a school night in bad weather."
In the end, however, all agree there's no changing it - not for the foreseeable future, anyway. So there's no other choice but to play and see how it all ends up.
"You've just got to suck it up and play," Sleggs said.