Here’s my colleague Nancy Haggerty on Kennedy finalizing its expected move from Section 1 to the CHSAA:
Kennedy Catholic High School has made official its long-considered, long-debated move, telling Section 1 in a letter dated last week that, beginning next fall its teams will play in the Catholic High School Athletic Association.
The move was first championed last fall by Kennedy’s director, FatherMark Vaillancourt, as a means to bolster enrollment at the 556-student school.
Criticism followed, centered both on increased travel to games and the impact on the Somers school’s girls sports program.
The CHSAA’s local region this year includes nine schools in Manhattan, eight in the Bronx, five on Staten Island and five in mid-to-lower Westchester.
While Kennedy had earlier said girls lacrosse and field hockey would play independently because the CHSAA does not offer those sports, the March 13 letter to Section 1, which Vaillancourt and athletic director Father Matthew Newcomb signed, states only that the Gaels are leaving to play in the CHSAA.
Reached Monday, Kennedy spokesperson Alexander Malecki declined to comment on the switch.
The letter follows a recent ultimatum from Section 1 for Kennedy to notify it of its plans.
Section 1 director Jen Simmons indicated Monday that Kennedy’s withdrawal from the largely public-school athletic organization it had played had come as no surprise.
“Their coaches were telling everyone they were gone,” Simmons said. “We wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt in notifying us.”
Simmons said fall schedules would have to be adjusted with schools finding non-league opponents to fill in Kennedy’s scheduled slots.
But the move has no impact on winter scheduling because, with things up in the air regarding Kennedy, no scheduling had been done in its conference.
Although the CHSAA officially bans athletic recruiting, Vaillancourt had argued leaving Section 1 would allow the school to specifically recruit athletes. He pointed to better competition, while at the same time criticizing Section 1 for scheduling the school’s successful baseball and boys basketball teams play AA, large-school opponents.
Some parents, though, have argued the move would not benefit girls sports, with concern being raised in part over the condition of CHSAA facilities.
Section 1 mandates that schools have all or none of its teams in the section, making the exception, in some cases, for teams to play independently.
Kennedy has been in Section 1 for more than 35 years. Simmons said the school could apply for reinstatement but would have to be approved by both its conference and the section.
“I think we provided a great opportunity for them to compete and with some pretty strong competition,” she said. “They apparently felt it was in the best interest of their school community to leave and so we wish them well.”