The news came out last fall that all 11 schools in Rockland county were considering a move from Section 1 to Section 9 due to transportation concerns—among others—but it was confirmed on Monday that a decision has been made to stay put. This is very good news for Section 1 from a competitive standpoint, and it seems to be a relief for many coaches and players around Rockland who have grown fond of the rivalries and relationships built with other Section 1 schools across the river. Meanwhile, the schools in Dutchess county continue to explore the move to Section 9. My colleague Mike Zacchio has more:
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 school year, The Journal News confirmed Monday.
Tappan Zee athletic director Liam Frawley, who has been spearheading the proposed move to Section 9 since the winter, said the schools were deadlocked in the decision that would only take effect if the vote were 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 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.
Rockland schools moved to Section 1 from Section 9 in 1983. Despite the decision not to change sections this time, Frawley said the relationship between Sections 1 and 9 remains 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.”
North Rockland AD 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, in his 44th year at North Rockland, said 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 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 school year.
While a decision has been made for Rockland, the possibility of Dutchess schools leaving Section 1 for Section 9 is still a possibility.
“I’m happy with it,” Suffern boys volleyball coach Kim Cleary said of Rockland’s decision.
Suffern eighth-grader Evan Margolin, who was bumped up to the varsity boys volleyball squad for the regional tournament last 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.