Catholic schools not part of conference proposal
Where there's smoke, there's fire and the news of a Lehigh Valley super-conference finally came to fruition last week.
After months of rumors and speculation about the future of the Lehigh Valley Conference, the Mountain Valley Conference stepped in and sent out an invitation to 12 neighboring schools to ultimately form a "big school, super-conference," according to Stroudsburg Principal and MVC President Jeff Sodl.
All of the current LVC members, except for Bethlehem Catholic and Central Catholic, received the invites last week, along with Colonial League 4A qualifier Bangor, as well Phillipsburg (NJ). The league would officially take place in 2014-2015.
"We've been looking to expand since we knew Lehighton was going to be leaving," said Sodl. "We've thought about this since the fall and we've had good ideas. Things started to heat up in January and February and we felt confident this would fly."
Meanwhile, Bethlehem Catholic Principal John Petruzzelli was flying back into town Monday afternoon after a weekend in Florida, as Bethlehem Catholic's band was performing in Disney.
It was certainly a case of bad-timing for the head of Becahi to be out-of-state, as word of the invite came out last Friday.
"I've basically been on the phone all weekend," Petruzzelli said. "I was a little surprised when I heard the news. We want to be apart of any league that exists and we're committed to that. We're concerned about the recent developments, but we are proud to be apart of the Lehigh Valley Conference."
Lehigh Valley Conference President, Chris Schiffert, said it was too soon to comment at length about the developments on Monday afternoon. He had a planned meeting with the LVC's executive council slated for Tuesday, where they would discuss the invite.
"It was definitely a surprise to get the letter inviting us," Schiffert said. "I really haven't had much time to digest this. I'll meet with our superintendent and athletic director to discuss the situation. Right now, it's new for everybody."
The news of the invitation might be new, but the reality of the situation developing has been festering for months, if not years.
Sodl said that the only reason Becahi and Central Catholic were not invited was because of their classification and how it plays into the role of power points.
"That's absolutely the reason," said Sodl, a Whitehall graduate who enters his third year atop the MVC's power structure. "Those schools are not 4A. It has nothing to do with anything else."
That statement will certainly make eyes roll across the Valley, as everyone knows there is more to the matter, but Schiffert, Whitehall's Principal and first-year President of the LVC, plans to have discussions with both, Bethlehem Catholic and Central Catholic officials on the situation.
"I will certainly reach out to those schools," he said. "They're part of our league [LVC] and we'll talk with them about the situation."
The MVC has set a deadline of May 31 to respond to the invite. A June 6 meeting has already been put on the calendar to form the league and it's officers.
Sodl made it clear this isn't an all or nothing affair for the invited members.
"It's basically a decision that each individual school will have to make," he said, "but we feel good about the positive feedback we've gotten."
Feeling good is probably the farthest thing that officials at Becahi and Central are harnessing at the moment, but Petruzzelli isn't giving up hope about finding a resolution.
"I'm always going to remain hopeful," he said. "I'm hopeful that cooler heads will prevail and that this will work out in everyone's favor."