Yet Another Conference Switch on the Horizon

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Yet Another Conference Switch on the Horizon

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After three years in the Northeast Ohio Conference, Raider athletics will have a new home for the 2015-2016 school year.

Shaker announced in late 2013 that it and six of its co-members of the N.O.C. would be leaving to form the Greater Cleveland Conference at the start of 2015-2016 school year.

The GCC will include Brunswick, Elyria, Medina, Mentor, Shaker, Solon, Strongsville and Euclid, which was added to the conference in 2014.

Athletic Director Don Readance said that move to GCC was made in order to avoid being left behind.

“The move to form the GCC was basically out of necessity,” said Readance. “We didn’t really have too many options; the NOC was basically breaking and there were a lot of schools going in different directions. The original seven schools that we decided to form the GCC with all had the same circumstances as us and they were all Division I schools, so based on that we kind of just formed the best of what was left.”

According to Readance, the major downside to the Raiders’ new conference is the burden of travel.

“Geographically it’s not exactly what we wanted because we have some schools out in Lorain county and some down in Medina county, which will make travel a little tough,” said Readance. “But that’s just the way it is right now with high school athletics — there’s a lot of movement and jumbling around.”

The furthest travel time for the Raiders in the new GCC is to Medina High School, about 50 minutes away by car.

Medina is not the only far away destination. Elyria, Mentor and Strongsville are all over 40 minutes away as well.

Before forming the G.C.C., Shaker attempted to form a I-271 conference including schools such as Twinsburg, Mayfield and Brush but to no avail.

A lot of those teams really don’t want to have to compete with Mentor in football. Some teams like Hudson and Stow were also complaining that they didn’t get to play their rival football schools and at the end of the day football is the deciding factor for a lot of these schools”

— Don Readance

The new conference will be a step up for Raider football as they will now play powerhouse teams like Mentor, Solon and Brunswick on a weekly basis.

“All our kids are either going to step up to the plate or we have long seasons ahead of us,” said Head Football Coach Jarvis Gibson. “We have zero weeks off, we have no cupcakes on the schedule.”

The new conference will debut this fall at the start of the  school year and will affect all varsity sports except field hockey, ice hockey and crew.  The new conference will even debut a new men’s lacrosse division, something NOC did not offer.

“It’s a lot more competitive,” said Justyn Moore, a junior on the cross-country team. “We will be in the toughest conference [for cross country].”

However, Moore believes the competition could be beneficial in improving Raider athletes’ results.

Tennis coach Alan Slawson predicts little change for his team next season.

“There won’t be much of a difference. Solon will be our biggest rival for both girls and boys tennis,” said Slawson “The two best teams in the current conference are Solon and Shaker, and in the new conference the top teams will still be Solon and Shaker.”

Junior baseball player Canyon McWilliams believes the new conference will help the Raiders win more big games.

“I’m really excited for the higher level of competition. I think it will make us a better team with more tendency to fight in close games,” he said. “Not to take anything away from our team’s accomplishments in the NOC, but the fact of the matter is the competition we face during the conference doesn’t adequately prepare us to win close games against high quality teams.”

According to Readance, the only other alternative for the Raiders apart from the GCC was going independent, which brings on a whole host of other problems. If a team is independent, it means they don’t have any conference affiliation.

“We didn’t really have a lot of options, and I wanted to avoid going independent because when you’re independent, scheduling is a nightmare, especially with sports like men’s basketball when there are only so many open dates to schedule games once other teams start their conference play.”

Readance liked the long term idea of the G.C.C. but said that Shaker will keep all options open.

“This type of conference realignment is happening all over the state, everyone is knocking around trying to find the best situation, Readance said. “We’re definitely not looking to jump around from conference to conference, but at the same time we have to find the best situation for our school, our community and our kids.”

Raider Zone Editor Alexa Jankowsky contributed reporting.

 

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