Monday, Aug. 24, marked a new era in Suburban Council sports. Four former Big 10 schools – Albany, Christian Brothers Academy, Schenectady and Troy – began playing as official members of the now 16-team league.
We feel this move is good all the way around, even if the former Big 10 schools find it difficult to compete against the 12 established Suburban Council programs in some sports such as soccer, tennis, lacrosse and track and field.
When the Big 10 broke apart in the spring of 2014, it left all but Amsterdam floating in a sea of uncertainty. While Amsterdam left to join the Foothills Council – which was a better fit for the Montgomery County school in terms of competitive level and location of other schools – the eight remaining schools had to scramble to fill their schedules as independent teams. That wasn’t easy to do, as they had to work around other schools’ league schedules and game limits set by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association.
As a result, they had to piece together schedules that, at best, were tougher than what they faced when the Big 10 was around. Ultimately, it was more difficult to seed them for Section 2 playoffs because some of their games were against schools from outside the region, and they had no league standings or point structures to fall back on. All in all, it wasn’t a good situation for any of the unaffiliated teams.
The specific problem Albany, CBA, Schenectady and Troy faced after the Big 10 dissolved was what league could they join? Three of the four schools play in Class AA for Sectionals, and the fourth competes in Class A. The Suburban Council was the only logical choice for them, which is why they wound up there.
There were obvious concerns surrounding adding those four schools. Not all of the schools offered the same variety of sports as the other 12 members of the Suburban Council (field hockey and girls lacrosse, for instance), and in CBA’s case, it didn’t offer any girls sports because it’s an all-boys school. Plus being a private school, CBA gains student-athletes from other school districts, some of whom are elite players.
The Suburban Council athletic directors should be lauded for putting those concerns aside and doing what’s right for the former Big 10 schools now in the fold. They could have told Albany, CBA, Schenectady and Troy to go elsewhere, but they knew there was nowhere else to go that offered the level of competition the Suburban Council has and could streamline the Sectional seeding process. It was in their best interest to welcome those schools.
Yes, some of the sports teams at Albany, CBA, Schenectady and Troy will struggle to compete with the likes of Shaker, Guilderland, Bethlehem and Colonie – not to mention Shenendehowa, Ballston Spa, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Niskayuna, Columbia, Averil Park, Mohonasen and Saratoga Springs. But at the same time, being part of a competitive league will hopefully help those teams get better.
It’s a new Suburban Council, and we hope it will be a stronger Suburban Council.