By Jeremy Balan
Every four years, the North Coast Section allows for league realignment, and two San Francisco high schools will be playing in different leagues in the 2012-13 school year.
Still playing under the overall umbrella of the Bay Area Conference, International High School and Drew School will take each other’s spots in their respective leagues. International will move from the Bay Counties League Central to the Bay Counties League West, while Drew will leave the BCL West to take International’s spot in the BCL Central.
“Last October, the conference approved the move and the Board of Governors approved it in April,” said BAC commissioner Tom Welsh. “It was a unanimous vote by the athletic directors with hardly any discussion, and the Board of Governors also received a consensus.”
Despite what the league names may indicate, competitive balance within the leagues is the conference’s focus, with the BCL West several steps above the BCL Central in overall talent and competition across all sports.
“The conference and athletic directors, at least the majority of them, put more emphasis on league play being competitive,” Welsh said. “We look at creating leagues where there is competitive equity.”
International, arguably the most successful program across all sports in the BCL Central, will move to the significantly more competitive BCL West, where Drew has yet to win a league title and struggles mightily in many sports.
“This was the time to do it,” said International athletic director and head baseball coach Anthony Thomas. “We made it clear that we were interested in changing over. We’re going to get the opportunity to play schools that we align with philosophically and with the money we put into our program.”
There is no doubt that the crop of small-school powers like University High School, Marin Academy and Lick-Wilmerding in the BCL West will bolster International’s schedule, and Thomas hopes the quality competition will attract desirable athletes.
“We want to attract the best student athletes, and a lot of parents want to know what league you’re in,” Thomas said. “It’s nice to know that we automatically have two games with Marin Academy and University, but it makes me lose a little sleep, because they are two of the best teams in Division V.”
While International takes a step up, Drew will drop down to the BCL Central, which is regarded by many as one of the weakest leagues in the NCS. Still, the program and administration at Drew views the switch as an opportunity.
“As an athletic department, we’re excited about it,” said Drew athletic director and head baseball coach Carlos Reed. “The only thing that’s really changing is our [league] schedule, because we’re still going to try to play BCL West teams [in nonleague play].”
Reed embraces the change, but would not rule out reentering the BCL West when the next opportunity for realignment comes around.
“If that opportunity presents itself in another four years, the school will definitely think about that,” Reed said. “Who knows what’s going to happen? Things change a lot around here and have changed a lot even in the four years since the last realignment.”
The BAC’s East Bay leagues will also be impacted by realignment, with Holy Names of Oakland moving to the Bay Counties League East from the Bay Shore Athletic League. Quarry Lane of Dublin is also applying to be a part of the BAC’s other East Bay league, the Bay Counties League, in a supplemental capacity with boys soccer and boys basketball teams.