South Shore schools find NIAA proposal appealing |

South Shore schools find NIAA proposal appealing

Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor

There is no secret as to which way South Tahoe High is leaning in regards to the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association realignment proposal.

The Vikings have been beaten up in the major sports by Douglas, Carson and the Reno schools in recent years. Possibly moving to a league that would include the other four Lake Tahoe schools and Sparks could be the tonic to revitalize STHS’s football, basketball and baseball programs.

“Financially and competitively it’s the answer, but it’s not the athletic director’s decision,” said South Tahoe Athletic Director Don Borges, who is consulting with his coaches, administrators and school district personnel on the Vikings’ preference.

Whittell, which would be asked to compete against schools four or five times larger, supports the new realignment and a school administrator said the proposed changes are better than another option.

“We approve playing against 3A schools and know it will be difficult in some of our sports, but we prefer to be in a 2A-3A league rather than the 1A league,” said Whittell Athletic Director Kathy Bluethman.

If the realignment proposal is approved by the NIAA Board of Control, the Zephyr Cove school of barely more than 200 students could wind up with its most difficult schedule since being a Nevada Class 3A member in the 1990s.

Bluethman said in an e-mail that there are other appealing factors associated with the proposed league.

“We appreciate competing against the closer schools so our community can attend,” she said. “There will also be a financial travel savings for our school district. One of the reasons we do not want to be added to the 1A league is due to the lack of seasonal sports for both boys and girls in some of the schools.

“We are very supportive of the NIAA proposals and appreciate their efforts for our athletes and our school district.”

Competitive balance was never the primary intention of the NIAA when it began its latest round of realignment talks. NIAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine said that save timed in the classroom and travel savings were the focus.

“The money saved in regards to transportation,” Bonine said is the main reason why he believes this version will pass.

The proposal comes after a group of 29 committee members, including a group for the north and one for the south, set out to develop a solid plan after another proposal failed to gain momentum last October. The committee was assembled out of that failure and has put forth the proposal in the hopes of having it approved by March and take effect for the 2010-’11 school year.

In addition to South Tahoe and Whittell, the Mount Rose League would include Truckee, Incline, North Tahoe and Sparks. Routine nonleague opponents for the league would come from the Lahontan League, which is proposed to consist of Fallon, Dayton, Fernley, Lovelock, Rite of Passage, Silver Stage and Yerington. Schools from the Mount Rose League would only be asked to venture east to play Ruby Mountain League teams in football. Since these leagues would be made up of 2A and 3A schools, the NIAA is planning to redirect playoff teams to their respective classifications for postseasons.

“Back in the day in other states, including this one, you played people that were close to you during the regular season and then you looked at your record and then when it came down to it, you played people your own size for playoffs,” Bonine said. “It’s kind of the same old philosophy. We’ve come in a huge circle.”

The move to the Mount Rose League would also give South Tahoe a true rival in Truckee. In the 4A, South Tahoe has been without a rival, although Douglas was once considered one. Whittell’s longtime rival has been Incline, and with both part of the proposed Mount Rose League that rivalry should stay in tact.

“The NIAA wants to set up a rivalry week that means something,” Borges said. “On that week, South Tahoe would play Truckee, Elko would be playing Spring Creek and Fernley and Dayton would be playing.”

One drawback to the drop in classification, however, could mean the elimination of freshman teams at South Tahoe. The Vikings currently field frosh teams in boys’ and girls’ basketball, volleyball and football. Many of the schools in the 2A and 3A don’t have freshman teams, and Borges doesn’t see a separate schedule being created for freshman teams.

“We send all the people on one bus. It would take away from the design of the proposal,” he said.

The NIAA plans to gather feedback from its member schools later this month, then will ask school district superintendents to vote on the matter in February before taking action in March.

“You never know,” Bonine said of the possibility of the proposal being passed. “I believe we’ve put together two solid committees, one from the North and one in the South. They worked diligently in the meetings that we’ve had. They put a lot of time into it.”

– Justin Lawson of the Nevada Appeal contributed to this story.

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