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By Loren Kopff
@LorenKopff on Twitter
When the 2018-2019 academic school year begins, two current leagues in the California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section will have a new look, one current league will no longer exist and another will begin.
Artesia, Cerritos, John Glenn and Whitney high schools, along with Oxford Academy and Pioneer High will become members of the new 605 League. A proposal put together by the members of the new league was passed 27-16 at a meeting at Hart High last Friday morning to let Artesia, Cerritos and Glenn leave the Suburban League. Pioneer had already been granted a release from the Del Rio League and the Academy League, which Oxford Academy and Whitney are currently members of, will dissolve after next academic school season.
Of the 53 schools from the Almont, Del Rio, Foothill, Mission Valley, Pacific, Rio Hondo, San Gabriel Valley and Suburban Leagues, all of whom make up the Foothill Area, 10 did not attend the meeting, thus could not vote. Oxford Academy and Whitney are not part of the Foothill Area but did vote.
According to Artesia co-athletic director Joe Veach, there were three proposals to choose from. The first was the original proposal set forth by the new members of the 605 League, which was submitted by Artesia. The other two, submitted by California High and Mayfair High, would have had Oxford Academy and Whitney join the current Suburban League to make it a nine-team league.
“We presented our proposal and then there was a discussion,” Veach said. “Cal High then presented theirs, but stated that their proposal was only a backup plan in case ours was voted down. The whole Del Rio League was in support of our proposal. Mayfair then presented their proposal and the discussion continued. After the discussion, we voted and [the first] was selected.”
Discussions on Artesia, Cerritos and Glenn leaving the Suburban League began as far back as eight years ago. The principals and athletic directors of those three schools, plus Pioneer, have stated that they wanted to be in a new league with competitive equity. As for Oxford Academy, located in Cypress, and Whitney, they knew the Academy League was going to dissolve and needed a new league to join. Oxford Academy and Whitney are big rivals, simply because of the proximity between the two and their schools are among the best in the state in terms of academics.
The 605 League will be a sigh of relief for Oxford Academy and Whitney, who currently travel as far as San Juan Capistrano (St. Margaret’s High) to play a league game. Prior to the Academy League, Whitney was situated in the Delphic League where they would have to play teams from the San Fernando Valley, North Hollywood and West Los Angeles.
“We have never been in a league with another district school, nor have we ever been in a league with only public schools,” said Whitney athletic director Virginia Keith. “We are excited to be in this new league. Our average travel distance in the Academy League was 21 miles on way. Now it is seven. Our students will be able to compete, go and watch each other’s games more often and stay in school longer on game days than they do now. These are wins for our students.”
Veach said that he doesn’t expect the 605 League to be perfect but felt that it is a good fit for Artesia and its athletic programs. Octavio Marquez, the other co-athletic director at Artesia and an alum from the school, says Artesia has been a member of the Suburban League at least since 1988. Cerritos, which has been in the San Gabriel Valley and Mission Valley Leagues, has been in the Suburban League since the 1998-1999 academic school year.
“I think it’s good for our whole school,” Marquez said. “It allows our students an opportunity to now compete in many sports.”
Now that the 605 League has been put in place, there is some work that needs to be done in the next year and a half. None of the 605 League schools have ever started a new league, so they’ll have to put together a league constitution, rules and schedules for each sport. Keith said the athletic directors of the 605 League are hoping to take the best qualities from the Academy, Del Rio and Suburban Leagues to put together the new league constitution.
Veach said that the scheduling of some sports will be tricky, especially in football because Oxford Academy and Whitney don’t field football programs. That means the other teams will have three league games. According to California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section rules, you must have at least four schools to field a league. The remainder of the Suburban League will be facing the same situation, which has already drawn some negative feedback. One athletic director from the other Suburban League schools said that they are so upset of the 605 League forming that they will not schedule games with some of the schools of the 605 League. The new league also means that city rivals Glenn and Norwalk High will no longer play each other in league contests, but could still see each other in non-league or tournament games.
“Speaking for Artesia, we would be open to playing those schools still as non-league opponents,” Veach said. “For me, playing those schools in competition wasn’t the big issue. It really came down to being in a league that made it difficult for us to qualify for CIF playoffs. With the new competitive equity model for the playoffs, it gives schools like Artesia a better opportunity. But we can’t utilize that opportunity if we are in a league where we can’t qualify for the playoffs.”
Marquez echoed the same sentiments, adding that Artesia didn’t have any issues with the other four Suburban League schools, He says that the 605 League allows for a more even playing field for Artesia.
For Veach, this is a little bittersweet because while he firmly believes this is a positive move for Artesia High School, he enjoyed his time in the Suburban League. He says he has a lot of respect for the coaches and leadership at the other Suburban League schools and wishes them the best moving forward.
“We did a lot of preparation for this vote, including going out and talking to all the other leagues in the Foothill Area,” Keith said. “We were prepared and our hard work paid off. I think the thing we are all most pleased with is that our students will have more competitive league games in this new league.”
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