Lakes vs. Lincoln football comes to mind.
How about the Bonney Lake, Bethel and Tacoma schools in dual-meet wrestling?
And the travel should be a bit easier for all schools, too.
No more Narrows League. No more Class 3A South Puget Sound League. Sixteen schools, mostly comprised of those two leagues, decided Tuesday to form two separate 3A leagues in the West Central District 3 beginning in the 2016-17 school year, including eight schools that agreed to be called the Pierce County League.
Those 16 schools include Capital, despite it recently being accepted into Southwest District 4.
Here’s how it will look:
In the Pierce County League — Bethel, Bonney Lake, Lakes, Lincoln, Mt. Tahoma, Spanaway Lake, Stadium and Wilson.
In the other, yet to be named league — Capital, Central Kitsap, Gig Harbor, North Thurston, Peninsula, Shelton, Timberline and Yelm.
“There are some matchups in certain sports that will be very intriguing,” Lakes athletic director Scott Nordi said. “Now Lakes will be with the Tacoma schools (which has never before happened), they bring strong basketball teams and strong football programs and they are strong across the board in other programs. It will certainly be different from a competition standpoint.”
The decision came from a meeting of athletic directors and administrators of the 16 schools Tuesday in Tacoma ahead of the district’s 4 p.m. Wednesday deadline it imposed last week.
Those 16 schools are currently members of either the Class 4A Narrows League, Class 3A Narrows League, Class 4A SPSL or Class 3A SPSL. The Narrows League has existed since 1980, but all its 4A schools either dropped to 3A or moved to the 4A SPSL.
“From a community standpoint, it just made sense that when we’re not playing Tacoma, we should be playing Lakes and Bethel and Bonney Lake and Spanaway Lake,” said Tacoma school district athletic director Sam Reed. “Those are places that our families can get to for away games. They weren’t going to Shelton and to Capital and Central Kitsap. I think we are going to create a lot of opportunities for families to support their kids and for fans to support their classmates.”
Peninsula goes from the 3A SPSL to a league that includes four schools from Thurston County and another from Mason County. But it also joins a league with neighbors Gig Harbor and Central Kitsap.
“We were very happy,” Peninsula athletic director and football coach Ross Filkins said. “This is going to be a very, very strong 3A league with deep programs with both varsity and sub-varsity depth.
“It should probably be considered one of the strongest 3A leagues in the state.”
He said that a concern with potentially sharing a league with the four Class 3A Tacoma schools was their lack of junior varsity and C-teams.
But Reed addressed the issue at Wednesday’s meeting, saying the Tacoma Public School District has a plan in place to create greater depth at its sub-varsity programs.
“My entire experience in high school athletics has been in urban schools,” said Reed, who was the athletic director at Chief Sealth in Seattle before being hired as the Tacoma School District AD in 2013. “That’s all I know.
“We’re not looking for quick fixes here. We’re looking to change the system … it’s not going to happen overnight, but it’s not where it used to be either. All of our schools have C-team volleyball and all of our schools have C-team girls basketball, where as it might have been hit or miss even two or three years ago.”
Said Sumner school district AD Tim Thomsen: “We have put a lot of faith in what the Tacoma schools are doing to provide sub-varsity programs. They’ve really worked hard at that and we are looking forward to that partnership.”
Nordi, the co-president of the 3A/2A SPSL, helped make the decision to first deny the Tacoma schools entry into the 3A SPSL, despite accepting Gig Harbor, North Thurston, Timberline and Yelm.
“The reason for denying the schools wasn’t because they’re the four Tacoma schools. It was because we felt it was important to maintain two leagues,” Nordi said. “We didn’t want to take in the entire Narrows into the SPSL because we felt very strongly there should be two leagues.”
As did the athletic directors who met Tuesday. They voted unanimously that the two leagues they formed should be two separate leagues, and not one 16-team league with two division.
Nordi said nine ideas were first presented, before that was narrowed to three ideas, then two, before finally agreeing to this one.
“It was a democratic process and it was a good process and we came up with a plan that was best for everybody,” said Bethel School District athletic director Bryan Streleski. “Was it perfect? I’d say by no means. It’s not necessarily who we expected to play, but it was an option that we thought would still be viable for Bethel schools.”
The Tacoma schools appealed to the West Central District to join the SPSL, and the district last week decided to neither accept or deny the appeal. Instead, sending them — and all the slated 3A schools in the district — to figure it out for themselves and do so by Wednesday.
If they didn’t decide, the district would have decided for them.
“It’s very similar to what we would have decided,” district president Dwayne Johnson said. “It’s right in line with what we would have come up with.”
He said he would be surprised to see the executive board have any issues when it meets Monday.
CLASS 3A WEST CENTRAL DISTRICT LEAGUES FOR 2016-2020
Pierce County League
SOUTH SOUND CONFERENCE