By Gavin Menu
Playing interscholastic sports on the East End comes with a certain level of isolation and a huge amount of travel. The East Hampton School District, which shares several sports programs with the Sag Harbor and Bridgehampton school districts, suffers most with travel because of its placement in Class A, which includes larger schools from much further west on Long Island.
Local athletic directors in recent years have lobbied Section XI, Suffolk County’s governing body of athletics, to revise how leagues and conferences are structured to take into account the amount of travel required for East End schools. More often than not, these requests have been denied.
But East Hampton Athletic Director Joe Vasile-Cozzo this week announced a breakthrough.
“We did some re-alignment that will help our community and our issues with traveling,” Vasile-Cozzo said. “Conference III, in Class A, will be done geographically now. We won’t have to leave school early to get to Huntington anymore.”
Or, he added, will teams be traveling to Harborfields, John Glenn, Kings Park and Amityville, all schools located west of Route 83 near Medford and Coram, which, he said, is the dividing line.
Not all sports will be affected by the re-alignment, though, since some sports such as football and field hockey are determined by power-rankings. Playoff schedules also will not be affected, and East Hampton will most likely, at times, have to play schools west of Route 83 in the postseason. The sports that will be affected by the upcoming changes are boys and girls soccer, girls volleyball, boys and girls basketball, baseball, softball and spring and winter track.
Vasile-Cozzo also took a minute this week to talk about the East Hampton football program, which, he said, will welcome interested Pierson players back into the fold next spring after the program slipped into Division IV this past fall season without Pierson’s enrollment numbers taken into account. Looking at next year, however, East Hampton by itself is set to be placed in the much more competitive ranks of Division III, which means that sharing the program with Pierson again makes for an easy choice.
Much more difficult, however, is the prospect of playing a Division III schedule with what has been a struggling program in East Hampton. Vasile-Cozzo said he has been working with Sag Harbor Athletic Director Todd Gulluscio as well as Mary Anne Jules, the athletic director in Bridgehampton, on a proposal to the county about keeping the football program in Division IV.
Vasile-Cozzo this week was unsure whether those efforts would be as successful as his most recent request.
“Right now they’re supposed to go to Division III with or without Sag Harbor,” he said. “I’m really concerned about that. Our program is re-building and struggling to keep our numbers up. We have 21 or 22 healthy players on a weekly basis, and we combine with two other school districts. We’re going to be asking for some kind of consideration or relief.”