Basketball coaches have had a tough time completing their non-league schedules because they have not known their full availability. That's because regional administrators just voted in a third draft of the master league slate.
In a 12-3 vote Monday, the Northern 4A’s athletic administrators voted in a new master schedule for boys and girls basketball for the upcoming 2008-09 season. The vote came after Elko officials requested a schedule change earlier this summer.
Standard operating procedure has seen local large school coaches get their master league schedules in late Febuary. This year they had to wait until May as Elko asked for a new draft in February. Now they’ve learned they can scrap the schedule they got in May. Yet another new schedule is going into place.
Coaches often use March, April and May to do the bulk of the work on their non-league schedules. Now they may have to break commitments with other schools because their availability has changed in December.
“This could affect one school more than others ... but that’s a problem because you make commitments to people. It’s definitely an inconvenience. It’s frustrating, but I don’t want to get too worked up about it because what can we (coaches) really do?” Spanish Springs boys basketball coach Kyle Penney said.
It's surprising only three regional administrators told Elko, “Sorry but we think you should stick with the plan in place.” Basically, that’s what’s happened. Twelve other schools had no problem with Elko being wishy washy and having no forethought.
Here’s another problem I have with the vote. The eight schools in the Sierra League all voted on the issue when they don’t play Elko and a High Desert League schedule change has no effect on their programs. With 15 total votes, eight schools got a vote with nothing invested in a potential changes.
In theory, the HDL schools could have voted 6-1 to keep the old schedule in place, but Elko officials could have convinced the eight schools they don’t play to vote their way and a new slate could have been implemented. That’s not what happened, but it’s not right that it was even a possibility.
The 4A North’s administrators should have told Elko that it was too late to change schedules and out of courtesy to the the six other HDL schools, the former plan needed to stay in place.
My gripe is mainly aimed at the decision makers in the Elko County School District. They have caused the inconvenience and demonstrated a lack of courtesy to their counterparts here in western Nevada, not the coaches, athletic director nor principal at EHS.
ECSD leaders complained that the league basketball schedule implemented in May would increase travel costs and create more lost school time for EHS students. Neither of those issues are new. They could and should have been addressed and evaluated last spring. The price of gas has gone up since spring, but last I checked the price of gas has gone up at a fairly regular rate since Hurricane Katrina hit in the fall of 2005.
Also, the ECSD would not have had to lodge 40 athletes and coaches every Friday night in Washoe County. I’m pretty sure any added fuel costs would have been offest by the lodging savings.
Sure EHS basketball players would have missed one day of school a week during a six-week stretch, but the people I’ve talked to at the rural school say their athletes are the last kids they have to worry about keeping grades up. Athletes by and large are the motivated students.
In addition, nobody in Elko County has raised much of a stink about the long-time practice of soccer, golf and track athletes competing during the week as the basketball schedule approved in May called for.
It’s a double standard for basketball and my guess is someone or a few someones in the ECSD are masking a personal agenda.
The recently scrapped schedule called for Elko basketball squads to play Tuesdays and Fridays instead of the long-standing Friday-Saturday format. The change would have allowed Elko to practice and prepare for league opponents in between games like their foes across the state have grown accustomed to. Elko is the only 4A school in the state that competes in league on only back-to-back days.
That’s unfair to the Indians basketball players and a nice advantage for Elko opponents.
That’s the key reason EHS Principal Mike Altenberg, AD Lynette Davis and the school's boys and girls hoop coaches wanted to try the Tuesday-Friday league format.
“I think they (ECSD officials) should trust us a little more,” veteran Elko boys basketball coach Chris Klekas said in an interview last week. “If it were too much travel or too much missed school, we never would have done in it the first place. I’d love to have a Saturday off. ...
“It’s not like this is the first time it’s come up. Track travels during the week. Soccer does it. Golf does it. We’ll make sure the kids are in school. I’d love to try it for one year. If it doesn’t work, I’d be happy to switch back. The positives far outweigh the negatives. That’s what’s frustrating.”
Davis echoed the sentiments of Klekas, stressing she wished her school district wold have allowed the school to try the Tuesday-Friday format for at least a year.
I wholeheartedly agree. The student-athletes at Elko deserved that. Northern 4A administrators shoulder some blame for letting the issue get his far, but the ECSD adminstration has totally dropped the ball on this issue. Now coaches and athletes at Sparks schools, Reno schools and, more importantly, Elko are forced to pay the price.
Dan Eckles is the Sparks Tribune’s sports editor. He can be reached via e-mail at ... email@example.com