Fairport leaving Chagrin Valley Conference for NAC
Fairport is leaving the Chagrin Valley Conference after the 2020-21 school year, league commissioner Don Lewis confirmed to The News-Herald on April 26.
Earlier this week, Fairport was accepted into the Northeast Athletic Conference, Lewis said. There the Skippers will join Pymatuning Valley, Vienna Mathews, Newbury, Southington, Lordstown, Bristol, Bloomfield, Kinsman Badger, Windham and Maplewood.
"We're thrilled. I'm thrilled," said Sandra Knight, activities director at Fairport. "I know the head coaches are excited. I know the administration is on board. The board (of education) voted unanimously on April 23 to move into the NAC.
"We reached out to the NAC, we were accepted. They're happy to have us as well. Both sides are happy. That's a good thing."
Lewis said the CVC officially got word from Fairport on April 24.
"They've been a good partner for our league, and we're sorry to see them go," Lewis said. "We wish them the best of luck."
Last April, the CVC announced it was adding six schools to increase its membership to 22. The six schools, which will begin play in the CVC this coming fall, are Brooklyn, Ashtabula Edgewood, Ashtabula Lakeside, Trinity, Lutheran West and Grand Valley.
Grand Valley came to the CVC from the NAC. In essence, Fairport is filling the vacated spot in the NAC left by Grand Valley.
Fairport's departure after next school year leaves the CVC with 21 members going into the 2020-21 school year: Beachwood, Berkshire, Brooklyn, Cardinal, Chagrin Falls, Cuyahoga Heights, Edgewood, Geneva, Grand Valley, Harvey, Hawken, Independence, Kirtland, Lakeside, Lutheran West, Orange, Perry, Richmond Heights, Trinity, West Geauga and Wickliffe.
Whereas Fairport was one of the smaller schools in the CVC, it will be one of the larger schools in the NAC.
According to the most recent enrollment figures provided by the OHSAA, Fairport had 189 students grades 9-through-11. The only schools in the CVC with smaller enrollment were Cuyahoga Heights (183) and Richmond Heights (186).
In the NAC, Fairport's enrollment is larger than those of Bloomfield (45), Newbury (116), Southington (138), Bristol (147), Windham (145), Lordstown (152), Maplewood (172). Pymatuning Valley (292) and Badger (212) are the only NAC schools with a larger enrollment than that of Fairport.
"The size," Knight said. "We are one of the smallest in the CVC for boys, and probably third-smallest for girls. That played a big part in (the decision to leave). We wanted to play teams a little more competitively balanced with us in terms of our numbers and size."
Knight also commented on junior high sports. She said her experience working in schools in the Philadelphia area showed different levels of development at younger ages.
"A lot of times, seventh or eighth grade might be the first time a player touches a basketball," she said. "Really, developmentally, I think the NAC would help our student-athletes enjoy, learn the game and have fun with the game."
Only five of the NAC schools have football as a sport: Pymatuning Valley, Newbury, Southington, Windham and Fairport.
Travel will be farther for Fairport, too. Whereas the closest schools proximity-wise to Fairport in the CVC are Kirtland (14 miles), Richmond Heights (22 miles), Cardinal (25 miles) and Berkshire (28 miles), the closest NAC schools will be Bloomfield (37), Bristol (38), Southington (39) and Pymatuning Valley (42).
"We drive, with where we are in Fairport," Knight said. "The CVC is expanding geographically. I didn't think (drives in the NAC) were terribly that much further than Lutheran West or Trinity."
Knight said she appreciated the relationships with the members of the CVC.
"We loved the CVC," she said. "Don has been absolutely fantastic for the CVC. All the ADs I worked with have been phenomenal. This is what is best for our kids and our student-athletes."
Said Lewis, "I love Fairport. I enjoyed going out there when I was an official. The administration has been nothing but great to work with. As they told us, they have to do what's best for their student-athletes, and I certainly respect that."