(4-10-21) Yesterday the Northern Lakes League (NLL) announced that they had invited four members of the Three Rivers Athletic Conference (TRAC). All four schools submitted applications to join the conference, as did other members of the TRAC.

Invited to join NLL

  • Clay
  • Findlay
  • Fremont Ross
  • Whitmer

During the expansion process NLL member Maumee announced that they would leave the league and join the Northern Buckeye Conference, that move left the NLL with seven remaining members.

NLL Seven

  • Napoleon
  • Bowling Green
  • Anthony Wayne
  • Perrysburg
  • Southview
  • Northview
  • Springfield

Yesterday’s announcement of four schools being asked to join the NLL in 2023-24…it also leaves the door open for at least one (12 schools) other school being invited to join….or three (fourteen schools)…or five (sixteen schools). So who is still being considered? The remaining TRAC members or a surprise entry from another conference?

One thing we know is the NLL will want tto have an even number of members…due to football scheduling. That is always a constant in any football league.

Remaining TRAC members

  • Lima Senior
  • Toledo Central Catholic
  • Toledo Notre Dame Academy (Girls)
  • Toledo St. Francis de Sales (Boys)
  • Toledo St. John’s Jesuit (Boys)
  • Toledo St. Ursula Academy (Girls)

Liam area media seems to feel that Lima Sr will be an ‘orphan’ after the music stops in conference membership changes-

WBL Commissioner Kent Smelser in an email reply to SSN on Lima Sr. and LCC situation-

At this point I do not feel the WBL is looking to do any expansion. It’s a very solid league that works well together and I think everyone is happy with the way it stands right now

Speculation was running wild for a time that Defiance might consider a move to the NLL, in a reply to SSN (4-12-21) –

Defiance Athletic Director Jerry Buti

Defiance HS feels that we are in the best league in Ohio with outstanding member schools that are represented by Administrations, ADs and Coaches that do what is best for student athletes and their programs. The WBL is second to none. Defiance is not looking or going anywhere.

In a Toledo Blade story Lima Sr. Jim Zell said –

“We are disappointed, mostly for our student-athletes. With the uncertainty with what was going to happen with the Three Rivers Athletic Conference, we’ve been kicking around some ideas, There are still two years left in our conference to play, so a lot can happen in two years. We’re going to be proactive but patient.

“Our No. 1 goal is to find a conference. We’re not afraid to compete against the private schools. We take pride in going up against the best in northwest Ohio. If we don’t find a conference, there may be some other creative ways, if we go independent, to garner extra recognition for our student-athletes.”

Solutions for Lima Sr., per above tweet the Western Buckeye League? Will Lima Central Catholic, currently an independent, be involved with the remaining TRAC members? Could Ft. Wayne, Indiana’s Summit Athletic Conference be an option in some form? You can bet Spartan officials will consider any feasible options.

NOTE it is 64 miles from Lima to Ft. Wayne, while it is 77 miles to Toledo

Toledo Central Catholic issued the following statement from Head of School Kevin Parkins on not being invited to the NLL-

“We are not aware of the criteria for selection into the NLL, but all areas identified in the application process were submitted to their review committee. With an emphasis on inclusion throughout our society, we know the value that a faith-centered school can provide a league.

“We’ve celebrated over 100 years of forming leaders in the community, and we remain committed to working hard for our student-athletes to ensure they face the best possible competition while at CCHS.”

Parkins added in a Toledo Blade story

“I think we have thought of every option so far in some random brain-storming sessions, but there has been nothing concrete or any true conversations about it. You’re looking at Detroit, you’re looking at Cleveland, you’re looking at Columbus. It’s all a possibility. The five Catholic schools here in Toledo have a strong relationship with one another, and we will figure it out.”

So does the TRAC future look bleak? Will the remaining Toledo Catholic schools remain together for the future? Is a return to the Toledo City League even an option?

Out of the box ideas should be considered, this is not 1950 when conferences fit a specific format… it is 2021…all options should be on the table.