Big changes are coming to the Narrows League.
The 30-year-old league has granted admission to Capital, North Thurston, Timberline and Yelm, ensuring that the conference will increase in size and become a multi-classification league.
This is a good fit for us and the three other newcomers, said Yelm athletic director Thad Nelson. We really got put in a bind two years ago when the Western Cascade Conference went down to four teams. That was far, far from ideal.
If no other schools join, the Narrows League will have 15 schools for the start of school next fall.
No decisions regarding schedules or possible league divisions have been determined yet. However, two committees have been formed to explore scenarios. One idea gaining momentum is to play round-robin schedules in every sport except football. For football, teams would play league games against schools from the same classification.
Thats where it gets tricky.
The enrollment counts for the 2010-12 cycle wont be released until December, and a handful of Narrows League schools are hovering near the 3A/4A cutoff. For the 2008-10 enrollment cycle, the maximum population of students in grades 10-12 for 3A schools was 1,280. That figure will fluctuate, however, because classifications are based on percentages the largest 17 percent of the states schools will be 4A, the next 17 percent will be 3A and so on. Just how high or low that dividing line will move, no one knows.
At Yelm, Nelson is anxiously waiting for the final tallies. The Tornados are currently the states fifth-largest 3A school.
From January to June, we were at 1,240 students, he said. In September, were 1,301. I was a lot more confident in June that we would be 3A. Right now, I would say were borderline.
Currently, four Narrows League schools Bellarmine Prep, Gig Harbor, Lincoln and Wilson opt up to compete in 4A.
There has been speculation that Peninsula, which is in the same school district as Gig Harbor, might seek to join the Narrows League. Seahawks athletic director Curtiss Hall said his school will remain in the SPSL 3A.
The SPSL, the states largest conference with 27 schools, could find itself the target destination for at least one reclassified school. Mount Rainiers enrollment is creeping close to the current dividing line of 1,280 students.
Athletic director Darren Rawie admitted its possible that the Rams, in the Seamount League, could be reclassified into 4A. Mount Rainiers location in Des Moines makes the SPSL an obvious candidate if the Rams become 4A, but Rawie said he did not want to speculate on his schools affiliation next fall.
We are watching the enrollment count very carefully, he said.
Doug Pacey: 253-597-8271