The Middletown Times Herald-Record reported today that the Rockland County schools will not leave Section 1 for Section 9. My colleague Mike Zacchio is working on a story about the decision.
The Times Herald-Record said the schools opted to stay by a vote of 6-5. Tappan Zee AD Liam Frawley confirmed that the vote was close but would not disclose the final count. His school was among those interested in moving to Section 9.
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Here’s Zacchio’s story:
After months of discussions with Section 9 officials, all 11 Rockland County public high schools have decided to remain in Section 1 for the 2014-15 season, The Journal News confirmed Monday.
Tappan Zee athletic director Liam Frawley, who has been spear-heading the proposed move to Section 9 since the winter, said that the schools were deadlocked in the decision that would only take effect if the vote was unanimous.
“The (Rockland) athletic directors looked at it as an ‘all or nothing’ situation,” said Frawley, who is president of the Conference IV Rockland Public School Athletic League.
Frawley said that Section 1 officials have held several meetings with both Section 9 officials and authorities of the new Tappan Zee Bridge as to whether or not a move would be made. Section 1 officials are concerned that the impending construction of the new bridge would cause major delays in transporting athletes and coaches to and from Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties.
Despite the decision not to change sections, Frawley said that the relationship between Section 1 and Section 9 was left firmly intact should a similar scenario arise in the future.
“We left Section 9 on good terms,” he said. “The meetings were nothing short of cordial and professional.”
Rockland schools moved to Section 1 from Section 9 in 1983.
North Rockland athletic director Joe Casarella asked his coaches about the possible move, and said the voting was “almost unanimous” to stay in Section 1.
“We were willing to listen, but we want to stay together in Rockland,” Casarella said. “The coaches weren’t crazy about it, and really, they’re the ones (affected) by it.”
Casarella, who is in his 44th year at North Rockland, said that Section 9 made a convincing impression, and that the school is “always leaving the avenue open” in terms of a future move.
“You have to leave it open because you never know what can happen,” he said. “(Section 9) was so professional, and presented a phenomenal package.”
Frawley said that concerns with Rockland athletic schedules have been addressed, particularly those involving games or matches against Westchester and Putnam schools.
“We’ve talked to other conferences about saving games on their schedule,” he said. “We will probably revamp the conferences in the hopes of creating more crossover games.”
According to Frawley, a potential realignment of conferences could take place as early as the 2014-15 season.
While a decision has been made for the Rockland schools, the possibility of Dutchess schools leaving for Section 9 is still a possibility. Frawley said that discussions between Dutchess and Section 9 were moving “much faster” than those with Rockland schools.
“I’m happy with it,” Suffern boys volleyball coach Kim Cleary said of Rockland’s decision to stay.
Suffern eighth-grader Evan Margolin, who was bumped up to the varsity boys volleyball squad for the regional tournament this past fall, said he was indifferent about the move.
“It’s not a bad thing, but it’s not a good thing,” he said. “If we would’ve moved, we would have more of a variety of teams.”
North Rockland freshman girls basketball player Chloe Mullarkey also said it made little difference.
“I just hope that we have good competition,” she said.