Talks begin over merger of middle school leagues

POULSBO — Middle and junior high school sports teams may find themselves in a larger league next fall.

A plan to merge the Olympic Junior High League and West Sound Middle School League was scheduled to be presented to Superintendent Patty Page and the North Kitsap School Board Jan. 9. The merger would join the two leagues for the 2014-15 school year.

The plan is being presented to superintendents and school boards in each district. The plan is receiving unanimous support from the majority of athletic directors, said Kris Christenberry, the president of the Olympic Junior High League.

If approved by all school districts, 14 schools would form a new league. The districts involved in the discussion include Bainbridge, Bremerton, Central Kitsap, North Kitsap, North Mason, South Kitsap, University Place and Vashon. University Place lies within Tacoma, Vashon on Vashon Island.

“We’re at the step about knowing if the districts will approve,” Christenberry said. “I can’t guarantee it will happen.”

Though athletic directors are for it, it will take the OK of administrators from eight school districts to move forward with the merger. Athletic directors are still providing the initial information to their respective administrators, Christenberry said Jan. 7.

If the plan is approved, Christenberry can see a positive change in middle school athletics. One of the biggest differences will be the variety of teams, she said. For example, the number of football teams in the 2013 West Sound Middle School League was six. Christenberry said the average number of teams for each sport is six or seven.

As a former student-athlete herself, Christenberry said playing a variety of teams and seeing new places was exciting.

“Why run two leagues right next door to each other,” she said. “This could simplify things.”

The decision to merge leagues began in spring 2012, when the Central Kitsap School District opted to move their ninth-grade athletes to high school sports teams. South Kitsap followed suit.

The new league would include football — except for Woodward Middle School — and volleyball in the fall. Some schools may also include girls cross country.

The first half of the winter season would include boys basketball and girls soccer. The second half of the winter season would have girls basketball and coed wrestling.

The spring season would include track, baseball, and fastpitch. Fastpitch competitions would be between South Kitsap, Curtis, Hawkins and Mountain View.

Hawkins Middle School and Mountain View Middle School have been members of both leagues for years, according to the letter.

The league, in general, would be split into a north and south division “to hopefully help alleviate transportation costs.” Cross-divisional playoff games may be implemented.

“It is our collective hope that we have everything in place to function as an operating league for our fall 2014 sports,” the letter to Page and the board reads.


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