With the first athletic contest of the brand new Eastern Pennsylvania Conference just days away, we are embarking on a new era in Lehigh Valley scholastic sports. This new ‘superconference’ was necessary and is the best solution for everyone involved as the now defunct Mountain Valley Conference needed some assistance in order to survive and the Lehigh Valley Conference had exactly what the doctor ordered.
However, there was a time where it seemed like this would never happen.
Early on in the realignment process, the MVC invited all of the LVC schools, except for Allentown Central Catholic and Bethlehem Catholic, to join a new league. Why did the Schuylkill and Monroe county schools shun the Catholic schools?
The general public will never know for certain the exact reasoning behind it, but the masses agree that it is due to their unfair practices, such as recruiting athletes to their institutions.
Recruiting has been rumored to be a practice of both schools as being private schools, they do not have to follow the same regulations that public schools do as far as enrollment.
Originally those issues didn’t exist as Catholic schools competed in their own league, but now that the PIAA admitted them into league with public schools, it is now causing some controversy.
Bethlehem Catholic wrestling is the team that always gets looked at when the topic is broached. The Golden Hawks dominated during the regular season as a squad and crowned seven individual district champs, four regional champions and three BeCa wrestlers wore state gold, just this past season.
The former LVC school faced off against Northern Lehigh in the District 11 team tournament this past where the Bulldogs lost 68-3. Afterwards NL coach Steve Hluschak was quoted saying, “At least I know all of my wrestlers have the same zip code.”
Palisades forfeited an entire match against Bethlehem Catholic in what is believed to be a protest against the practices of Bethlehem Catholic. It is sad to see such poor practices poisoning scholastic sports here in District 11 and the entire PIAA. Catholic schools always are the top teams competing for the hardware and it is the same across all the sports. Dr. Robert Lombardi, the Executive Director of the PIAA, said that it was very unlikely that private schools would leave the PIAA.
In this writer’s opinion, private schools that are recruiting are just ruining the quality of competition at the varsity level. Public schools work hard preparing student athletes for years to have one, maybe two good years at the varsity level, not to have their talent poached. Focus on developing young student athletes and leave the recruiting for the colleges.