Archive for Thursday, April 6, 2006

The Fly Route

April 6, 2006

I'm not sure Central Heights or Prairie View surprised anyone by their recent decision to jump from the Frontier League.

That Osawatomie, Wellsville and Jayhawk Linn stand to join them in a five-team league is a bit more of a surprise, but the fracturing of the Frontier League was bound to happen seemingly from the day it started.

I wasn't here when the decision was made, but looking back now I have to wonder what all happened to make anyone think this group of schools ever belonged together.

There's too much asphalt between the schools. There's too much difference between the largest and the smallest and all too often there was too much difference between the best and the worst.

Working in both Eudora and De Soto has shown me how different those two towns are and compared to the differences between some of the Frontier League's powerhouses and the small and shrinking Central Heights, Eudora and De Soto seem like brother and sister.

Let me try to sound like I've lived here long enough to know what I'm talking about: most of the Frontier League towns are defined by their relation to the Kansas City metropolis.

For schools like De Soto and Gardner Edgerton, the relationship is very strong and defines a lot of what happens in the community, in the schools and where it concerns me the most, on the ball field.

The effect here can maybe be most easily seen on the soccer field. De Soto first fielded its girls team a little more than a year ago and it only has two other Frontier League schools on its schedule, Gardner and Ottawa.

Eudora is less than a 10-minutes drive away, yet there is no serious movement for a separate girls soccer team.

Central Heights, meanwhile, lies about 45 minutes away and I doubt there's any real call for a soccer team of any kind.

There's nothing wrong with that. I went to a high school where you would have fielded more people making fun of soccer than seriously playing it. But we didn't play huge Class 5A powers either, and it should surprise no one that the schools that are leaving got tired of playing the big dogs.

The league simply makes more sense now. A nine-team league with De Soto, Eudora, Gardner, Ottawa, Baldwin, Louisburg, Anderson County, Paola and Spring Hill lumps a bunch of growing 4A and 5A schools together.

Dropping Central Heights, Prairie View, Osawatomie and Wellsville eliminates three of the four furthest schools and some of the leagues most uncompetitive teams -- though it should be pointed out one of the new league's smallest schools, Eudora, is competitive in just about everything.

It's not all about a county line, the distance to the nearest shopping mall or having a girls soccer team. It's about a group of schools that never really had a right to be together in the first place and two groups that stand a much better chance of flourishing now that they're apart.

And that concludes your lesson on local geography taught by a guy from somewhere else.

Tune in next week for a lesson on soccer strategy, softball facemasks and the logic behind Kansas City passing a stadium renovation tax and forgetting to pass the rolling roof -- three more things I don't really understand.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.