BRISTOL>> Starting in the fall of 2015, Avon will leave the NCCC and join the Central Connecticut Conference.
The state’s largest conference becomes even bigger. But with the addition of a 33rd school comes division realignment.
Under the current system for the majority of sports, there are four divisions based on geographic location. Under the new system, there will be three divisions based on location (North, Central and South) and they will be broken down into two subdivisions (Blue and White).
Avon will join the Central Region, White Division for most sports. It’ll join Bulkeley, Farmington, Northwest Catholic, Weaver and Windsor. In football, it will be in Division II West with Newington, Wethersfield, Platt, Maloney, Bristol Eastern, Bristol Central.
“We still wanted to stay with the geographical aspect of it and of course size plays into it and also competitiveness,” said CCC commissioner Barbara Startup. “We figured all those into the formula and came up with something that we thought worked with all sports.”
The decision came with the student-athletes in mind, Startup said.
“We went with the regional approach so there would be more divisions giving kids more opportunities to make all-conference and more divisional champs,” Startup said. “So really its just better for the kids. That was something that really pushed us.”
A champion for each region will be crowned resulting in six league titles.
The most noticeable change in the conference alignment will be in football where enrollment figures played a large role.
Hartford Public and Farmington will move up from Division II to Division I East, while Newington and South Windsor drop a division. Middletown moves from D-II West to East in what looks to be the most spread out football division in terms of travel distance (South Windsor, Windsor, Bulkeley, RHAM, E.O. Smith). Fermi moves from Division II to III.
“What our plan was, every two years to look at the size of the schools and to adjust it accordingly just like the CIAC does,” Startup said. So that effected a few of the schools, because their enrollment increased. That’s where we had to make some adjustments.”
Another goal of the realignment was keeping city rivalries alive.
“What we also tried to do was keep the towns that had two schools in the town in the same division which we didn’t have in the past,” Startup said. “If you see Division II West, we have Platt and Maloney (Meriden) and Bristol Eastern and Bristol Central together and then we have Hall and Conard (West Hartford) up in Division I [West]. The schools would like us to do that, so we try to accomodate them in that respect.”
Scheduling 33 schools has advantages and disadvantages, according to Startup. It helps fill a schedule very quickly, but not all teams want that.
“There are those schools that would like to play games out of conference and so they’re limited there,” she said.
This certainly isn’t the first time the conference has been forced to realign its divisions. In 2004, when the league had just 23 schools it expanded from three division to four, moving the two largest schools from each division into a new one.
And it might change again.
Recently, the town of Enfield voted to consolidate its two high school’s athletic programs (Fermi and Enfield) in 2016, thus increasing the size of its athletic program.
“Their enrollment will obviously go up, so that will make a move somewhere,” Startup said. “Just thinking ahead, they’ll probably move out of division III and into division II.”
In the end, Startup said, “It will be more opportunities for kids, that’s the key.”