With word coming out that Rockland’s 11 high school athletic directors are having preliminary discussions about the possibility of moving from Section 1 back to Section 9 for the 2014-15 school year, several prominent coaches from around the county say they’re hoping the talks don’t evolve into action.
“Me personally, all I’ve ever known as a coach and an athlete is Section 1,” Tappan Zee wrestling coach Peter Dene said. “I guess I have a certain amount of pride in Section 1; I have nothing against Section 9 at all, but I can understand why some people would resist change.”
The main reason for the discussions comes down to logistics. Tappan Zee athletic director Liam Frawley cited scheduling issues and the upcoming construction of the new Tappan Zee Bridge as potential obstacles to Rockland teams remaining in Section 1. They’re having preliminary conversations to determine if a move to Section 9 would be more efficient.
“I think it depends on what price you want to pay,” Pearl River girls basketball coach Lorraine Moylan said. “The travel to go to Section 9 is pretty extensive. To go to Cornwall in the middle of the week, kids would come home late. I don’t know what you’re saving. I think you have to look at what’s going to happen with the kids. During the week, that’s a long day. I don’t know what you’re gaining.”
Many coaches point to a level of comfort and stability that has been established with their Section 1 counterparts on the other side of the Hudson River. The bond in Section 1 is strong, with many relationships formed over the years among competitors.
“After all of these years, that’s what you’ve built up,” Moylan said. “You know a lot of the coaches and players. You read about them in the paper.”
Another concern among coaches is how the move would affect the caliber of competition. Rockland has combined with Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties in Section 1 to form one of the deepest and most competitive sections in the state.
“You don’t want to put anyone down, but I think the competition here (in Section 1), somebody is going to knock somebody off every year,” said Tom Lynch, North Rockland’s football and baseball coach. “Up there (in Section 9), it seems like one team usually dominates. The depth is unbelievable in Section 1.”
Coaches outside of Rockland are hoping Section 1 remains intact to maintain some of the rivalries that have been formed. Mike Chiapparelli, who coaches hockey and baseball at Mamaroneck, has had some battles with Rockland teams over the years, particularly with Suffern.
“There are some good teams over there,” Chiapparelli said. “I’d like to see them stay, but if it’s something that needs to be done for monetary reasons, they’re going to do it.”