HOOSICK, N.Y. — Starting in fall 2016, the Wasaren League will have two new members and possibly a third.
Over the Christmas holiday, all of the other schools and their Board of Educations approved Saratoga Catholic and Waterford-Halfmoon to become the eighth and ninth teams in the Wasaren League.
"I like it. I think it'll add a little spice to the league," said Hoosick Falls boys basketball coach Mike Lilac. "It was important to get these two when we [could]. Year in and year out, it should make the league a little tougher, it should be really competitive."
According to the New York state enrollment numbers, Spa Catholic has 114 students — which would make them a Class D school, but athletically, every sport is taken separately and using factors such as success over the past five years, they are placed in a certain class.
Most sports, Spa Catholic is placed in Class C, except for baseball (Class B) and girls soccer (Class D).
Waterford is in the middle of Class C with a BEDS number at 183. They would be the smallest Wasaren League team, about 40 students less than Cambridge's 220.
Tamarac is the biggest Wasaren League school with 302 students, in Class B. Mechanicville, Stillwater, Hoosick Falls and Hoosic Valley are all considered Class B schools. Greenwich and Cambridge are the two C schools.
"What helped it along quickly was to get a repeat of last year which what we did after losing Schuylerville (to the Foothills) and getting Mechanicville," said Lilac, who was also the Hoosick Falls athletic director for nearly two decades. "We've built relationships with Spa Catholic and Waterford last year, but we decided to get Mechanicville. This year it was quicker because there was still interest. We were checking back to see if the interest was still there."
In most sports, both Waterford and Spa Catholic are a good fit, Lilac said.
"In basketball, Waterford is at least as good as Granville and Spa Catholic is better than both," Lilac said. "In baseball, Spa Catholic is about as good as it gets in Class B and Waterford won a couple of sectional titles in the 2000s. We didn't want to take a step backward in the league's competitiveness in the league. The athletic directors and administrations did a good job getting these two."
Spa Catholic moves from the Western Athletic Conference, while Waterford moves from the Central Hudson Valley League. Arguably, both jump to a higher level of competition.
"The [Wasaren] will be even more competitive with the two new schools," Lilac said. "I always thought the tougher your league is, you try to keep up with your competition. Spa Catholic is coming from a good league in the WAC, and for Waterford, it's way better, as a C school, it's the best move that any school has made."
The fact that Saratoga Catholic is a private school was a concern to some as well. But when athletic director Phonsey Lambert presented to the league's ADs, those concerns were alleviated.
"He said that 88 percent [of the students are] from Saratoga and the others are there to get a Catholic education," said Cambridge athletic director Deb Lauver. "It's not a problem for me, my only concern is they don't fill the schedule at each level (junior varsity or modified.)"
Lilac said that tightening of the transfer rules also evened up the schools to match with the Wasaren.
A tenth team is on the horizon, which will make for more flexibility in terms of scheduling. With 10 teams, the Wasaren League would go to a two-division format — North and South. Teams would play others in the same division twice a season and crossover with the other division once a season. Then the top teams in each division will play a championship game to determine a league champ, with the other teams matching up position, second place in the North vs second place in the South, and so on.
Lauver said between the league's athletic directors and the school superintendents, there's a couple of teams in the mix to become the 10th team.
"We're working on a 10th school that's size-appropriate for us," said Lauver, who didn't name a school. "They'd still have to formally apply, then present to the athletic directors and the superintendents. Then, because of our new bylaws, the rest of the school boards have to approve it as well."
The nine-team league will begin in the fall, but some AD's are waiting to hear something about a 10th team before putting together fall schedules.
" We're holding off on schedules, but we're hoping [to have something] for the end of January," Lauver said. "No one's formally [applied] yet, but there's strong interest."