Many could say it is the “Bill Hrabak effect.” The coach who once was at Cardinal Stritch and Genoa was always known for thinking out of the box.
This so-called “effect,” as I term it, has an end result of Gibsonburg applying and being considered as a member of the Toledo Area Athletic Conference.
Why the Hrabak effect? Because Hrabak, once he became football coach at Fostoria St. Wendelin, was part of the movement there to get St. Wendelin out of the Midland Athletic League for football only. I’m not giving Hrabak or St. Wendelin a chance to defend themselves now because male enrollment is down there and the change can be understood. He has 22 players on his football team this year, and that includes two females who are listed as kickers.
When St. Wendelin left the MAL and went to the Northwest Central Conference for football only, it created a domino effect that is still ringing today.
St. Wendelin remains in the MAL for other sports, but the MAL needed an eighth football team, so Lakota was invited and accepted. That left a hole in the Suburban Lakes League. So it continues, on and on, eventually affecting schools like Napoleon, Clay, Rossford, Fostoria, and all the remaining schools in the SLL.
End result? In two years, a new conference, the Northern Buckeye Conference will begin play with Eastwood, Genoa, Lake, Woodmore, Rossford, Fostoria, Otsego and Elmwood as members. Gibsonburg is out in the cold, and after not getting enough votes to join the MAL last week, has formally applied to the TAAC.
The TAAC met on Wednesday to begin moving on the matter. If Gibsonburg is accepted, it would become the eighth football member. Commissioner Dick Nowak said the TAAC is discussing reaching out to several other schools as well.
“(Gibsonburg) did formally apply today,” Nowak told The Press after the meeting. “We did have a joint exploratory meeting and the next step will be taking it up with the TAAC athletic directors and principals in October.”
If Gibsonburg (138 boys/132 girls) joins the TAAC, for football it would compete with Northwood (127/126), Ottawa Hills (120/125), Danbury (57/72), Cardinal Stritch (91/132), Toledo Christian (75/84), Edon (91/86) and Hilltop (90/91).
For all other sports, remove Edon and Hilltop (Buckeye Border Conference members in other sports), and fill in Maumee Valley Country Day (74/50) and Emmanuel Christian. Enrollment figures are from the Ohio High School Athletic Association (Emmanuel Christian is not a member).
Nowak added that a building project currently under construction at Maumee Valley could result in expansion of enrollment and football may be brought back to the South Toledo parochial school in future years.
Hernandez takes charge
While three out of five local Suburban Lakes League volleyball teams have new coaches this year, it doesn’t end there.
Guillermo “Memo Hernandez” takes over at Oak Harbor this season, but like the others, she has plenty of experience. That includes as an Oak Harbor volunteer assistant last year. Hernandez’s assistant this year is Jackie Gezo.
Hernandez does have seven more years of previous coaching experience, including at the varsity level at Lakeland Christian, Florida. While there, Lakeland Christian won a league and district championship and Hernandez was voted Polk County Coach of the Year in 2001.
Last year, Oak Harbor finished 6-15 and seventh in the Sandusky Bay Conference. Hernandez has two returning lettermen to help improve on that — Abby Zurvalec and Nicole Buehler, but adds that the “SBC is very strong and competitive in volleyball.”