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Schools of Thought: Vote will determine teams’ future

December 10, 2012
By MIKE ZUMMO ( , The Leader Herald

For the second time in a year, voters in the Oppenheim-Ephratah Central School District will go to the polls to determine whether the district will be merged with neighboring St. Johnsville to form a new district.

For those of you who frequent the sports pages, you know the two districts have been merged athletically for the better part of the last three seasons. By the time you pick up Wednesday's paper, we'll know whether two districts are going to become one, or if the official merger is going to fall by the wayside.

According to a story in Friday's paper, the Oppenheim-Ephratah school board is talking about sending students between grades 7 and 12 elsewhere should Tuesday's vote fail.

If the vote passes, very little will change athletically. So far, in the fall and winter seasons, the two districts shared sports programs. Oppenheim-Ephratah sent its students to St. Johnsville for soccer in the fall and basketball in the winter. This winter, St. Johnsville sent any interested volleyball players to St. Johnsville.

Obviously, nothing has been decided about the spring yet, but I imagine if Tuesday's vote is approved, Oppenheim-Ephratah will send its baseball and softball players to St. Johnsville.

If the vote fails, I would be very surprised if you will see Oppenheim-Ephratah athletes participating there in the spring. When last year's merger vote failed in O-E, St. Johnsville played the role of the jilted bride at the altar and voted to send Oppenheim-Ephratah's athletes packing.

If the vote fails, I'm almost sure that will happen again.

If it passes, expect them to combine again during the spring under the St. Johnsville banner like they have in the winter and fall.

From a sports standpoint, the two districts are more compatible than Oppenheim-Ephratah would be with neighboring Dolgeville. Although Dolgeville is closer to Oppenheim than St. Johnsville is, Dolgeville is in Herkimer County, which plays in the Section III Center State Conference. Oppenheim-Ephratah - when it operated solo - also played in the Center State Conference, but I always thought it was a better fit in Section II. I haven't done all the math, but just from looking at a map, the Western Athletic Conference schools seem to be closer than the Center State Conference schools.

The possible combined district most likely will be a Section II team and play in the WAC like most of the combined teams do now. The only question would be what would become of Oppenheim-Ephratah's volleyball team, which plays in the winter, unlike the rest of the state, which plays in the fall.

Will it move to the fall? Will it remain in the winter? Will it exist at all?

Those are questions that will need to be answered later.

Now, the name. If this passes, please say no to St. Johnsville/Oppenheim-Ephratah. For one, it's obnoxiously long and secondly, the St. JOE nickname makes it sound like a Catholic school. How about the West Fulmont? Sounds good to me.

That is, of course, if it passes, and sports are just a minor cog in the big machine and will certainly not be the deciding factor.

But just from what I'm reading in the news, change will be coming to Oppenheim-Ephratah whether voters choose to merge it with St. Johnsville or not. It's worked for the sports teams, why not other programs?



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