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Published: Tuesday, 6/3/2008

Rossford still in Northern Lakes League

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

About a month ago, it seemed the Northern Lakes League was going to lose a member.

Now there's a possibility the NLL will add, not subtract, from its ranks.

NLL schools are scheduled to meet one week from today and, while the nature of that meeting has not been officially announced, league officials are expected to discuss and possibly vote on adding Clay and Napoleon to the league, perhaps as early as the 2009-2010 academic year.

"I have no comment at this point," NLL commissioner Larry Morrison said yesterday when asked about the nature of the meeting. "I'd rather speak when we have something concrete to announce."

The Northern Lakes League began looking for a potential new member when Rossford submitted a "letter of interest" to the Suburban Lakes League to replace Lakota, which will move from the SLL to the Midland Athletic League in 2009-2010. Soon after Rossford sent its letter of interest to the SLL, the NLL began to solicit potential new members.

Both Clay and Napoleon expressed interest, and on May 19 principals and athletic directors from the NLL's eight member schools were invited to meetings with officials from both Clay and Napoleon.

A total of 12 administrators took part in the tours at the two schools. The potential new members heard presentations by students, staff, board of education members, and even members of the community who presented their case for admission to the NLL.

"We looked at both schools, looking at their facilities and their athletic programs," Morrison said. "We wanted them to present to us the advantages they felt they would bring to the league."

One advantage for Clay, which currently is a member of the City League, is that its enrollment figures make the Eagles a good fit with the rest of the NLL. Clay's enrollment figure for boys (509) would rank fourth in the league, while its girls figure (461) would be fifth.

Another advantage is that the school sits in the geographic footprint of the league, which consists of suburban Toledo schools.

Clay athletic director Jim Jurski did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Napoleon, which currently is a member of the Greater Buckeye Conference, sits roughly 40 miles southwest of Toledo and is closer than Clay to only one NLL school, Anthony Wayne.

Further, Napoleon's enrollment figures are bigger than only Rossford among current NLL members. Napoleon's enrollment for boys (326) is almost 100 short of the next-smallest NLL total, the 412 from Maumee, but Napoleon's girls enrollment (317) is less than 30 fewer than Maumee.

One of Napoleon's advantages is its recent history of success against the larger schools in the GBC. This past year the Wildcats won league titles in football, boys basketball, wrestling, boys track, girls tennis and softball.

Napoleon's fan base also has a history of traveling well to support its teams, and NLL travel would be more enticing than current league trips to Sandusky and Marion Harding, for example.

"We don't have anything to talk about," Napoleon athletic director Brad Musgrave said about the potential of a switch to the NLL. "When we have something to talk about, then we can talk."

Contact John Wagner at:

jwagner@theblade.com

or 419-724-6481.



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