What does future hold for ECC's Evil Six?
In the absence of truth, presumption and speculation — plenty of it — have filled in the blanks recently. But the truth gets spoken today. A truth that could alter the future of high school sports in eastern Connecticut.
The 18 athletic directors of the Eastern Connecticut Conference meet today, amid hovering conjecture that the ECC could explode. What's fact? What's fiction? Depends on the speaker and the agenda. A popular theory, however, hints at the departure, albeit unwilling, of six schools: East Lyme, Fitch, Norwich Free Academy, New London, Ledyard and Waterford.
They would, in theory, be voted out of the league that would retain the other 12 members: Montville, Stonington, St. Bernard, Wheeler, Bacon Academy, Lyman Memorial, Windham, Griswold, Plainfield, Killingly, Woodstock and Tourtellotte.
Once again: Nothing happens today. School principals would vote on any such proposals at a later date. This is conjecture. But this much we know: The conjecture is serious enough for some officials from the Evil Six to contact the Southern Connecticut Conference about joining the league, perhaps as the SCC's de facto Eastern Division.
This much we know: The SCC is always looking to expand. It has a number of M, L and LL schools that would offer enrollment-friendly crossovers. And the Evil Six would bring a number of solid programs in several sports that would enhance the SCC's cachet even more.
I'd make the argument that the Evil Six is the best of the ECC. It is the opinion of others, however, that the Evil Six alters the competitive balance of the conference and that the ECC would run better without them.
I wonder, however, if during today's meeting, someone from the Evil Six floats the following proposal:
The Evil Six retains Montville, Stonington, Bacon Academy and Woodstock Academy, thus creating a new, 10-school ECC. The other eight would get their wish, a regionalized, small school league, the more modern Quinebaug Valley Conference, bereft of the imbalances they perceive.
I'm not sure the preferences of Montville, Stonington, Bacon and Woodstock. Perhaps they have no intention of leaving the ECC as we know it. Remember: This is conjecture. But even if they have considered aligning themselves with the new QVC, there are better reasons to stay with the Evil Six.
Stonington: New principal Mark Friese has a sports background, once an assistant basketball coach at Fitch. He understands competition. He understands that Stonington is an ECC staple. Plus, how would the Bears fill the schedules of two of their most successful sports — field hockey and lacrosse — in that small school league?
Montville: Hard to say. It has played the poor-little-old-small-school card before. But new superintendent of schools Brian Levesque, like Friese, has a sports background. I doubt he'd let Montville, another ECC staple, leave. Besides, ask the following question of Montville coaches Colin Delaney, Phil Orbe and Tanner Grove, whose programs compete at state levels, as well as any Montville kid: Would you rather play New London and Waterford or Griswold and Plainfield?
Bacon: Athletics have been too successful to play in irrelevance. Administrators Marc Ambruso and Neal Curland are old NFA guys. Once again: Waterford and New London or Griswold and Plainfield?
Woodstock: I get that it's a hike to the hinterlands. But aside from football, the athletic programs are successful. Perhaps Woodstock would like to stay regional. But its programs are good enough for more. New headmaster Chris Sandford lives in East Lyme and thinks more globally than the typical quiet corner provincialism.
My wish today is that the microphone gets passed to all 18 athletic directors. And that they all speak their minds. No mincing words or sparing feelings. Do you want the old QVC? Do you want an altered ECC? Do you like status quo? For once, let your voice be heard in lieu of the incessant whining that picks away at any progress. Maybe even suggest a solution or two.
Mine: A new 10-school ECC that would be vibrant. The other eight can go back to 1980 and revel in all their regionalism. Then everyone's happy.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.
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