Intersectional formal for girls long overdue

The Christ the King girls' soccer team, which celebrated its second straight CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens title last season, will now play against teams from Bronx/Westchester. Photo by Joseph Staszewski
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The CHSAA is finally moving toward structuring its girls’ leagues like its boys’ counterparts and providing a more competitive experience for its athletes.

CHSAA’s girls’ league is working to create a multi-tiered intersectional format in all the “AA,” “A” and “B” divisions of all its major sports, according to intersectional coordinator and Mary Louis athletic director Joe Lewinger. Currently, teams play league games in their separate diocese with no true city championship playoffs in place.

The process of changing that format begins this fall with singular non-league crossover games between squads from the Brooklyn/Queens and Bronx/Westchester leagues. It’s an attempt to gauge teams’ level of play to better put together an intersectional system hopefully as early as the 2014-15 season and provide more quality games, particularly for the league’s lower-level teams.

In soccer, Brooklyn/Q­ueens’ Class AA teams had crossed over in a similar manner with Staten Island clubs for the last two years.

“[What] we are trying to do is address the parity situation in different leagues in the city,” Lewinger said. “We want to be able to increase the opportunities for competitive play on every level.”

The move was spurred by a disparity in the level of competition of each Diocesan league and a lack of teams for games in leagues like Brooklyn/Queens top soccer, volleyball and softball divisions, Lewinger said.

This fall’s soccer and volleyball season starts the process, and for the first time a true city soccer championship game will be held between the Brooklyn/Queens and the archdiocesan winner, which is scheduled for Nov. 6.

In Queens, this means teams like Mary Louis and Christ the King will cross over to play Preston and Cardinal Spellman in soccer and St. Francis Prep and Molloy will take on Kennedy Catholic and Maria Regina in volleyball. Softball will be similar. In basketball there will be two crossover days - Nov. 23 at Monsignor Scanlan and Preston for lower level teams like St. John’s Prep and Dec. 1 at Christ the King, which will feature some of the league’s top programs, including the Royals.

“We are trying to use these games to access where everyone kind of fits in,” Lewinger said. “So looking toward 2014-2015 we can hopefully come up with a system that works.”

This step is important because it’s an opportunity not just for teams to get to know each other, but the coaches to do so also. At a meeting at St. John’s Prep in April, Lewinger said he saw many coaches introducing themselves to each other and describing their program’s strengths and weaknesses.

“Some may have never heard of each other’s school, and there they were giving an honest assessment of their programs,” Lewinger said.

The CHSAA’s leadership and coaches should be applauded for finally making this a priority. Right now is still the easy part and there is more work and obstacles ahead. Still, this is an important step forward for the league and will provide the athletes with better experience and competition.

Updated 9:36 am, August 24, 2013
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