North Royalton accepted its invitation to join the Suburban League and will begin playing in the reconfigured league starting with the 2015-16 school year.
The district’s athletic programs currently play in the Northeast Ohio Conference, which began competition in 2007. It includes teams from the now-defunct Pioneer Conference, Western Reserve Conference and Lake Erie League.
“I believe this move is the right decision for our school district, athletics and our community,” North Royalton Athletic Director Bo Kuntz said. “We are very excited about our adventure with the new Suburban League.”
The SL was formed in 1949. Current members include Highland, Wadsworth, Copley, Revere, Cloverleaf, Nordonia, Tallmadge and Green.
Green has announced it will be leaving the SL for the Federal League. With that announcement, SL officials initiated talks and extended invites to expand the league to 14 schools.
The other schools invited to join the SL were Kent Roosevelt, Barberton, Cuyahoga Falls, Hudson, Stow, Aurora, Twinsburg and Brecksville.
Roosevelt currently plays in the Portage Trail Conference, Brecksville is a member of the Southwestern Conference, Aurora is in the Chagrin Valley Conference and Cuyahoga Falls, Hudson, Stow and Twinsburg are also NOC members.
Barberton is independent after previously playing in the SL.
The only other school to make public the acceptance of its invitation is Kent Roosevelt. The acceptance was pending school board approval on Sept. 17.
The administrators within the North Royalton district have been attending meetings this summer to discuss the new opportunity. They also have met with NOC member schools and officials.
“The Suburban League is a sound league with a great reputation,” North Royalton Superintendent Greg Gurka said.
Kuntz has first-hand knowledge of the SL. He previously was the AD at Highland.
“It is exciting that our district will be joining the other outstanding schools that will make up the new Suburban League,” North Royalton High School Principal Mic Becerra said. “We look forward to building classic rivalries among the schools and we believe joining the Suburban League is a great opportunity for the North Royalton City Schools and community.”
Travel distance will be about the same for most schools and less for others.
While travel was an issue with some NOC schools, a common complaint about the conference was how its three divisions are divided. Different sports may play in different divisions. Teams have the opportunity to jump divisions, or get bumped, based on their success in that sport.
“When we look at a conference, it is not just about athletics,” Gurka said. “Our goal is to develop rivalries and relationships with the conferences in both athletic and academic programs.
“This conference will allow us to do that. This alignment will allow us one set of teams for all sports to play so our schools and community knows our rivals.”