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INDIANA: Junior high athletics seeks autonomy in scheduling

by CHAUNCEY ROSS chauncey@indianagazette.net on October 25, 2011 2:45 AM

A regional coalition of school athletics administrators is looking to gain more control over scheduling interscholastic competition with the hope of eliminating long road trips for young student athletes on school nights.

The Indiana Area School District board of directors on Monday voted its support for the move for scheduling autonomy by the Westmoreland Area Athletic Directors Association.

Scott Mossgrove, the athletic director for Indiana Area Junior High School, told the board that many of the 20 schools in the Greensburg-centered association had been placed in sections with distant schools requiring long bus rides for games on nights before school days.

By scheduling games only against other schools in WAADA, the schools could reduce travel time and expenses, Mossgrove said.

"As an organization, not as individual schools, we would send a letter to the executive director of the WPIAL (Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League), saying we would schedule our athletic events in these sports through this organization," Mossgrove said.

"Even though the WPIAL has done a great job, occasionally … we get placed in a section where we are traveling an hour and 40 minutes on a Wednesday night for an eighth-grade football game," Mossgrove said. "For example, our teams this year had North Allegheny, Seneca Valley and New Castle. Those are kind of extensive trips. They're OK for varsity on Friday nights, but on a school night, it's not the optimum schedule we would prefer."

Mossgrove said the members of WAADA have scheduled their own cross country meets for the past 10 years, and that the region holds its own track and cross country championships.

Scheduling football, basketball and other sports through WAADA would mean Indiana's junior high teams would travel no farther than Connellsville, Mossgrove said.

With local control over scheduling, Mossgrove said, the member schools also could change some of the seasons for sports, such as girls' volleyball, to eliminate overlapping seasons and enable students to participate in more sports.

Mossgrove said the wrestling team wouldn't be affected.

"Currently, junior high wrestling through the PIAA and WPIAL is grades seven, eight and nine," he said. "We are leaving that at the WPIAL level. We will not touch wrestling, that will come through the WPIAL."

Mossgrove said schools in the WAADA coalition also may invite nearby schools in the Heritage Conference of PIAA District 6 to participate to fill out their schedules.

"We will need them in basketball to fill possibly a couple of games, and we would like to entertain Hollidaysburg, or Altoona, some of our old District 6 rivals," Mossgrove said. "But a lot of the local schools are dedicated to the Heritage Conference. That's their organization. We do entertain United and Homer-Center in track and we travel to some of their venues … but they are not a member by choice, of WAADA, because they are not a WPIAL member and they are dedicated to the Heritage Conference."

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