2017-03-19 / Sports

Saginaw Valley facing more possible changes

810-452-2651 • bpope@mihomepaper.com

Lapeer’s Tori Tripp and the Lady Lightning basketball team have solidified themselves as one of the top programs in the Saginaw Valley League. 
Photo by Brandon Pope Lapeer’s Tori Tripp and the Lady Lightning basketball team have solidified themselves as one of the top programs in the Saginaw Valley League. Photo by Brandon Pope SAGINAW – Months ago, The County Press reported that Bay City John Glenn will be added to the Saginaw Valley League, beginning with the 2017-18 school year. That, however, is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to potential changes within the Saginaw Valley League.

When it was announced that John Glenn would be added, there was also an extra announcement that Flint Northwestern would not be fielding a football team from here on out. That didn’t cause a scheduling conflict within the league as John Glenn could slide into Northwestern’s league dates on the gridiron.

Within the last few weeks, though, it was made public that Northwestern will no longer field any sports teams whatsoever following the conclusion of the current school year. It appears as if Northwestern will be gradually phased out, eventually leaving Southwestern as the Flint Community Schools’ lone remaining high school.

There has been no conformation as of yet, but it is likely that students attending Northwestern next year should be able to play on Southwestern’s teams if they choose to.

John Glenn taking over Northwestern’s league obligations seemed to be perfect timing, but that’s not the only concern within the SVL. Due to low test scores, Saginaw High is currently on a list of 38 schools throughout the state that could be forced to close at the end of the school year. The decisions will be made on a school-by-school basis and the final say-so has been delayed until May.

If Saginaw were to be shut down at the end of the school year, that decision would cause a huge ripple effect within the Valley. Scheduling would be a major issue with no one to replace the Trojans when it pertains to their league dates next season. The decision to eliminate Saginaw High, however, is still very much in the air.

Despite the possible departure of those two schools, rumors broke this week of a possible expansion for the 2018-19 school year. Following this school year, the Kensington Lakes Activities Association will lose 10 schools who will go on to form the Lakes Valley Conference. The shift left Grand Blanc, a KLAA member since 2009-10, very isolated geographically from their remaining conference foes.

The league met earlier in the week and voted Grand Blanc out of the KLAA, 13-1, effective after next school year. The Bobcats were the lone vote in favor to stay in the league. Grand Blanc has expressed interest in joining the SVL and will meet with the athletic directors and principals of the other Valley schools later in the month to present their argument on why they should be accepted into the conference.

With the number of southern schools in the SVL dwindling, it would seem as if Grand Blanc would be a no-brainer. However, the only potential road block could be their enrollment. Grand Blanc has 2,626 high school students, which would be far bigger than any other school in the SVL. Flint Powers Catholic has only 647 and Flint Southwestern 567.

The Valley is no stranger to having schools of various enrollments, but the high enrollment may be a bit off-putting to certain members of the league. Lapeer would be the closest to Grand Blanc’s enrollment with 1,932. The Lightning expressed interest in joining the KLAA, but with Grand Blanc being removed due to distance, it is highly unlikely Lapeer will be accepted.

The SVL remained basically the same for about a decade until the closure of Flint Central in 2009. Ever since then, the league has seen quite a few changes. For 2012-13, the league added Davison, Carman- Ainsworth, Flushing and Flint Powers Catholic after the Big Nine fell apart. At the same time, the SVL readmitted Flint Northwestern, who left the Valley in 2002 after declining enrollment and a lack of competitiveness took its toll.

Flint Northern closed in 2013 and Flushing fled for the Flint Metro League after the 2013- 14 school year. Lapeer would join in time for the 2014-15 school year after combining the former East and West high schools, and as of next year, John Glenn will be in the mix.

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