Weekly Feature

2006-07-12 / Sports

Changes coming to WNY high school sports

PATRICK NAGY PATRICK NAGY If you're a fan of Western New York high school sports, then you're going to love what's been going on behind the scenes Ibetween Section VI and the Monsignor Martin Athletic Association.

This fall, Williamsville will field a girls golf team which will play a non-league schedule with Sacred Heart, Nardin, Holy Angels, Mt. Mercy, Mt. St. Mary's and Buffalo Seminary, with the potential of some Catholic teams playing Williamsville twice.

In addition, seven football games pitting Section VI against MMAA will be held throughout the regular season, an increase of six games from a year ago. This fall, non-league football games include St. Mary's of Lancaster at Cleveland Hill in Week 4, Cardinal O'Hara at Williamsville South in Week 7 and St. Joe's at Niagara Falls in Week 8. The MMAA will also play 10 football games against the Buffalo Public Schools, including St. Joe's at McKinley, St. Mary's of Lancaster at Riverside and Cardinal O'Hara at Burgard in Week 1.

Girls golf and football joins basketball, baseball, softball and lacrosse to have non-league games between Section VI and MMAA.

Monsignor Martin High School Athletic Association Executive Director Brian Kiszewski said playing football against Section VI teams is a step in the right direction. "The timing was right and the scheduling enabled us to make it happen," he said.

Kiszewski couldn't have been more right. For years, every high school sports fan has argued which league has the best football teams. For instance, last year, Orchard Park and St. Joe's, which never played each other, shared top honors as the best large school team in Western New York. At least if a Section VI and MMAA team share top co-honors this fall, it would mean more.

Introducing a Section VI girls golf team is another good idea, it's just too bad that Williamsville cannot compete with any other Section VI schools.

Dr. James Rusin, Director of Athletics in Williamsville and now Section VI girls golf chairman, said he thinks other Section VI schools want to join but have yet to come forward. He thinks girls golf will evolve in the section, much like how boys hockey did 16 years ago.

The Western New York Hockey Federation started with three Williamsville teams; now it fields 13 squads, including MMAA's Canisius, St. Joe's, St. Francis and Timon.

With the inception of the first New York State Public High School Athletic Association girls golf championship this past May, it gives players like Williamsville South's Natalie Wisniewski, who has played for the boys team, an opportunity, if she chooses, to play for the girls team to compete for a state title.

But Section VI and MMAA still have work to do. Besides needing more girls golf teams, a girls hockey team in Williamsville was suggested at a recent Williamsville Board of Education meeting. And who knows what's going to happen with boys gymnastics. Kiszewski said MMAA softball and baseball could compete at the state level if there were not so many scheduling issues. But for now, it's nice to see the two leagues working together to promote athletics.

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