Any scheduling change will affect the boys and girls basketball programs at Reed and Spanish Springs. Past prep policy has called for athletic administrators to adopt a master league schedule more than a year in advance of the season. The first day of official practice for the 2008-09 season is just three months away.
Administrators did vote on a master schedule late last fall, but agreed to look at new proposals after concerns arose over the original plan. In early May, the prep athletic officials voted to approve one of the new proposals. The issue seemed to be solved but officials at Elko High School came forward with more issues involving the latest plan.
“Really, the winter sports calendar should be approved in November of the previous school year. To be looking at it again in May and now August is a rare situation,” Spanish Springs Athletic Director Art Anderson said in an interview Wednesday. “I think there is a sense of frustration (among administrators) as to why we’re looking at this issue again and I’m one of those people.”
At Tuesday’s scheduled 4A Northern Region athletic administrators meeting, Elko High AD Lynette Davis briefed her counterparts on her school district’s desire to scrap the current master schedule and vote in a different proposal. That left the group with a week to mull over the idea before its vote at the upcoming emergency meeting.
To make matters more curious, the scheduling plan that was approved in May originated from Elko’s plan to try a new schedule where its teams play on Tuesdays and Fridays. For years, the Indians have played on Fridays and Saturdays to minimize travel. EHS coaches wanted to try the new format, which would allow for practice time in between league games and hopefully better preparation.
“After all was said and done, our administrative (school district) office asked us to go back to playing Fridays and Saturdays,” said Davis, who admitted her coaches still like the idea of playing one mid-week and one weekend contest.
The region’s scheduling procedure has called for Elko to play two league games a week (Friday and Saturday), alternating home and away weekends. When boys teams were in Elko, girls teams were on the road and vice versa. That has meant teams were on the road once every two weeks, with athletes missing one school day during that period.
The current schedule would leave EHS athletes missing one school day and traveling once each week — either Tuesday or Friday — for a six-week stretch of winter. However, the school would see a huge savings in lodging as one of its programs would not be staying overnight on a weekly basis. In addition, coaches and players could get Saturdays off, unlike past years in which they rarely saw a break.
Long-time Elko boys hoop coach Chris Klekas is a big proponent of the current schedule and the two days of practice he’ll get between High Desert League games. He said it is tough to see decisions come down from the district level after administrators and coaches at Elko High had worked to try something new.
Klekas pointed out that other Elko athletes travel during the week and no stink has ever been made.
“I think they (school district officials) should trust us a little more,” Klekas said. “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 its 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.”
A large majority of the 4A basketball coaches across the Silver State are given freedom to create the non-league portion of their schedule, which is roughly the first five weeks of the winter season. Few coaches schedule any non-league contacts once the league season begins. This could make it relatively easy for coaches to accept yet another change to their master league slate.
However, in recent years 4A North schedulemakers have implemented a format where schools play at least one if not two league games in the final week before Christmas break. For instance, under the current approved plan, the Spanish Springs boys and girls squads are scheduled to play at home against Reno and at Hug on Dec. 16 and 18 respectively. Reed is set to play at home against both McQueen and Elko on those dates.
Under the latest proposal, which will be voted on Monday, the six HDL schools other than Elko, would play just one game before the Christmas break. That would be on Thursday, Dec. 18. This difference between schedules is the biggest sticking point for coaches as it changes their non-league availability.
“This could affect one school more than others. It’s that one week (in December) that’s tough to change,” Spanish Springs boys basketball coach Kyle Penney said. “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.”
With 15 4A Northern Region schools, eight votes will be needed to implement any change. Anderson said Spanish Springs will be voting to keep the current schedule plan in place.
“It seemed to me that a strong majority was happy with the schedule,” Anderson said. “Some people are very frustrated. When you consider family time and giving coaches a break over the weekend, those things are huge bonuses, especially in a sport season as long as winter.
“Elko’s in a tough situation. I feel sorry for them. I’m just not sure I feel sorry enough to switch back.”
It will be interesting to see how many other regional administrators echo Anderson’s sentiment. Monday’s vote will tell.