Johnstown, Cobleskill-Richmondville accepted to join Western Athletic Conference

PETER R. BARBER Johnstown goalie Madi Koller chases down Avery McLaughlin of Little Falls with team mate Jena Barker at Gloversville High School on, Aug. 30.
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By Kyle Adams

Things are changing at Johnstown and Cobleskill-Richmondville.

On Thursday, both districts were accepted to join the Western Athletic Conference for the 2024-2025 school year.

The Greater Johnstown School District will no longer be a member of the Foothills Council, following the completion of the 2023-2024 academic year, while Cobleskill-Richmondville will no longer be a member of the Colonial Council.

“We’re convinced more than ever that this is the right time to be making this change in our District,” Johnstown Superintendent Dr. William Crankshaw said in a statement. “We’ve seen a downward trend in student population, and it seemed we were differing more each year from the larger schools of the Foothills Council.”

“Feedback from our [Shared Decision Making] ad hoc committee,” he added, “showed that having fewer students available to participate in athletics sometimes resulted in smaller rosters, skewed outcomes, deflated school spirit, and sometimes not being able to field JV and modified teams at all.”

At Johnstown, both girls’ and boys’ lacrosse, as well as field hockey will be impacted, since the Western Athletic Conference does not field those sports.

“District administrators in Johnstown are closely following the recommendations of the SDM Athletic Ad Hoc Committee to confer with head coaches of those programs to develop alternative plans for competitive play for the 2024-25 school year,” the statement from Johnstown read. “Options include applying for associate membership in the Foothills or other leagues for only those sports, or building an independent schedule.”

It remains to be seen whether the Foothills Council would accept Johnstown in the few sports in question after departing the league in all other sports.

“The Foothills Council has been a wonderful partner for the Greater Johnstown School District for decades,” Crankshaw said, “but we believe this is the best move for our student-athletes and for Johnstown’s athletic programs. We will continue to work closely with our Foothills colleagues as we finalize the details of our move to the WAC.”

For Cobleskill-Richmondville, athletic director John Henry said indoor track was the only sport in question, which the schedule may need to be put together outside of the Western Athletic Conference. The school’s boys’ volleyball team participates as a member of the Patroon Conference.

“The benefit for us, as a district, is mainly being part of a more-balanced competitive league,” Henry said. “Plus, the transportation is a lot closer for us. Demographically, the opportunities for the kids at Cobleskill-Richmondville align a lot better with the schools in the WAC.”

This year wasn’t the first time that Cobleskill-Richmondville applied to move from the Colonial Council to the Western Athletic Conference.

“I believe in 2014 or 2015, it made it to the board, but it was rejected due to the lack of JV teams in the WAC,” Henry said. “It started getting more headway when I took over as athletic director, in the last five years or so. Last year, Johnstown pulled their application, and we were denied last year. We re-applied this year and got accepted.”

Henry pointed to other smaller schools, such as Watervliet and Mechanicville, leaving the Colonial Council, and being replaced by Class A schools Mohonasen and La Salle.

“Our enrollment had just been going down,” he said. “This is the second year in 23 years of coaching that we didn’t have JV football. We just have low numbers. We’re foreseeing getting JV football back, and boys’ soccer is in the same boat.”

The Cobleskill-Richmondville athletic director is confident he’ll be able to fill junior varsity schedules as a member of the Western Athletic Conference.

“It looks like JV will be able to fill the majority of their schedules in the WAC,” Henry said, “and if not, I’m hoping I’ve built a good enough relationship with the schools in the Colonial Council, where we can schedule non-league games with the schools we’ve been competitive with.”

“Thanks definitely goes out to the WAC for being so accommodating,” he added, “and to the Colonial Council; we were in that league for 20-plus years.”

Contact Kyle Adams at [email protected]. Follow him on X @kasportsnews and on Facebook at Kyle Adams.

By LH Staff

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