C-R gets serious about move to WAC


By Jim Poole

Cobleskill-Richmondville sports teams may be playing Schoharie, Middleburgh and other smaller schools next year.
That's if the C-R school board follows Monday's recommendation of Athletic Director Dale Wotherspoon for C-R to leave the larger-school Colonial Council and join the smaller-school Western Athletic Conference.
If approved, the move would take place in the 2016-17 school year.
Following up an idea that was first floated in the spring, Mr. Wotherspoon said most C-R coaches favor the switch.
Competition is a key concern. In recent years, some C-R teams--soccer, basketball and baseball--have suffered in the Colonial Council.
C-R officials believe that playing smaller schools than those in the Colonial would yield more success and therefore, more participation from C-R students.
C-R, a mid-sized Class B school, is the fourth-smallest in the Colonial. And this coming year, LaSalle Academy and Catholic Central are joining the Colonial, Mr. Wotherspoon said.
"Their teams are primarily Class A or AA," he added, meaning they're considerably larger.
And, Mr. Wotherspoon pointed out, with the addition of the two larger schools, the Colonial is increasingly becoming a more metropolitan conference.
"Our district is more similar to schools in the WAC," he reminded the school board. "Socially, culturally and economically, we're closer to the WAC."
Other factors are travel, fan support and economics. Most WAC schools are much closer to C-R than those in the Colonial, which cuts travel time and expense and increases the likelihood of fans making the away trips.
Another plus, Mr. Wotherspoon said, is that C-R teams could develop new rivalries or revive dormant ones in the WAC, such as playing Middleburgh and Schoharie regularly, as Cobleskill did years ago.
Longtime C-R rival Fonda, a Colonial member, has decided to move to the WAC, Mr. Wotherspoon said.
If C-R moved to the WAC, it wouldn't necessarily be playing all small schools. The WAC would probably be divided into small- and large-school divisions.
WAC members Mekeel Christian, Bishop Maginn and Bishop Gibbons--plus Fonda--are about C-R's size, Mr. Wotherspoon said.
Although most C-R coaches favor the move, some don't. The wrestling team, for instance, has had much success in the Colonial, and by moving to the WAC, would probably be facing much weaker competition.
Also, some WAC schools don't even have wrestling.
But Mr. Wotherspoon pointed out that C-R would have more latitude in entering wrestling tournaments, where the Bulldogs could compete against tougher foes.
The same is true for track and cross-country teams, which have succeeded in the Colonial, he added.
WAC athletic directors overwhelmingly favor C-R's move, Mr. Wotherspoon said. Response from WAC superintendents--who must approve the shift--is mixed, Superintendent Carl Mummenthey added.
There was some concern in the spring that by moving to a smaller league, C-R would be lowering the bar of competitionn and sending athletes the wrong message.
School board President Bruce Tryon alluded to that concern Monday when he asked whether the move is moving ahead just "because we haven't been winning."
Mr. Wotherspoon agreed that "the Colonial Council has become very competitive," and that "we're just looking at the overall scope of where we are.
"Geographically, it's better for our students. It's a better fit."
The move would not affect football, which plays in a different Class B alignment, or boys' volleyball, which plays in the Patroon Conference.
Also, Mr. Wotherspoon said, C-R tennis teams could probably remain in the Colonial because many WAC teams don't play tennis.
Mr. Mummenthey suggested board members consider the proposal before voting. The board will likely decide at the September 14 meeting.