Just when District 11 administrators and athletic directors thought they had the PIAA figured out, the state's athletic board pulled another rabbit out of their hat last week by delaying the move of girls' soccer to the fall until the 2012-2013 school year.
A 30-0 vote by the PIAA gave the girls spring soccer season life for two more years to give other districts in the state time to make the proper adjustments of accommodating another fall sport. Back in July, the PIAA voted 22-7 to move girls' soccer to the fall starting in 2010, but some board members acknowledged that they thought their vote was for a move in 2012.
So, amidst the confusion, a temporary peace has been made between the PIAA and some of its dominant spring soccer districts, such as District 11, District 3 and District 1.
"Usually we have our fingers on the pulse on what the PIAA is thinking, but this really surprised me," said Emmaus Athletic Director Dennis Ramella of the delay. "We already worked out our kinks for preparing to move girls' soccer to the fall, but this move helps out a lot of the other schools in the district that needed some time to make adjustments."
The delay does come with a catch however. One, is that schools have the option to move to the fall category in 2010. Second, there will only be one championship classification in the spring of 2011, meaning, that a traditional 3A power like Emmaus could be grouped with schools like Northwestern, Catasauqua or Central Catholic once the District 11 postseason brackets are set up.
This spring's championship classifications will remain the same, going with 3A and 2A categories.
"Since the Colonial League doesn't meet for another month, I don't know if they're going to stay in the spring or move to the fall right away," said District 11 Vice Chairman Dennis Nemes. "The league needs six votes to make a final decision and I can only guess what's going to happen. But I'm sure some of the schools are not looking forward to being put in the same postseason alignment as the bigger schools in the Lehigh Valley Conference."
The delay also gives districts time to rethink their budgets. Having to finance other playing fields to accommodate boys' soccer, girls' soccer and field hockey was a major concern for some schools. Hiring additional trainers was also a concern and since some coaches in District 11 acted as both boys and girls coaches during the two seasons, decisions needed to be made on what team the specific coach would pursue and new coaches needed to be hired.
For now, however, the delay gives District 11 time.
"It's a good a compromise from both sides of the spectrum," said District 11 chairman Jack Wabby. "This decision now gives us a transition period and it gives the current athletes who were playing field hockey and soccer the opportunity to play both without making a choice during their high school career."