Five Washington County Schools Set to Join Central Maryland Conference in 2017


After existing for just one year, the Central Maryland Conference is already expanding.

The conference, which was previously comprised of the 10 public high schools in Frederick County, will be welcoming five new members in 2017 from Washington County. Those schools are Boonsboro, North Hagerstown, Smithsburg, South Hagerstown and Williamsport. Washington County's two other schools- Clear Spring and Hancock- will not join the league.

The move reunites two counties that, along with Carroll County, formed the Monocacy Valley Athletic League from 2003-2015.

"This adds more opportunities for our current members in the CMC. It also added diversity in terms of the sizes of schools in the league, which means more balanced divisions, and geographically it made perfect sense" Frederick County Supervisor of Athletics Kevin Kendro said. "We've been in a league with Washington County before and a lot of our schools have good rivalries with them, so we're excited to have them join."

From Washington County's perspective, the move is expected to enhance the high school sports experience for its student athletes after all seven schools in the county spent the past year as independents.

Eric Michael, Washington County Public Schools' Supervisor of Athletics, said the lack of a conference was felt by athletic programs over the past year, which played a big role in Washington County's interest in joining the CMC.

"By the end of last fall, the kids started realizing that they weren't competing for conference titles or to be members of conference all-star teams. The reality sunk in that we were competing to get to the state playoffs and that's it," Michael said. "This move will provide our kids with greater opportunities."

When it became obvious that there was a chance some of Washington County's schools could join the CMC, a meeting comprised of principals and athletic directors from both counties was put together by Kendro and Michael. During the meeting, it was clear that the two groups' philosophies on the role athletics should play in a student's high school education were similar. It also became apparent there were aspects of the CMC that Washington County was impressed by.

Firstly, the CMC has a championship game for each sport it offers. This would be something new for Washington County, even going back to the days of the MVAL when regular season records were used to determine league champions. The idea of playing a championship at a college venue, which the CMC did in its first year by hosting numerous championships at Hood College, was an opportunity the schools from Washington County couldn't pass up.

Another aspect of the CMC that stood out for the Washington County contingent was the Principal's Cup, which is a year long competition that takes each sport's results to determine its winner. A championship win for a sport is worth 12 points towards a school's total, while a runner up place is worth nine, third place is worth eight and so on. It's another way for athletic programs to promote school spirit and to make every athletic contest matter.

The Principal's Cup also takes sportsmanship into account, having every player ejection be a subtraction of three points, and a coach ejection costing a school five points. Urbana won the competition last year.

"Our teams within each school followed each other more closely. Kids would get upset when there were ejections because they knew about the point totals," Kendro said. "It built more unity within our programs and no one sport weighed more heavily than another."

For the CMC, the expansion shows how successful the league has been in a short amount of time. After the MVAL disbanded, the quickly formed league was able to prove itself in its first year as a well-organized, fully functioning entity.

Adding teams is something Kendro and many of the league's committee members had hoped for when the CMC was getting established, even going as far as giving the conference a more neutral name as opposed to a more Frederick County oriented one. For now, Kendro is content with the number of schools the CMC has and doesn't see the league adding more.

There's still plenty of work to be done as a result of the new schools, including looking at league rules that Washington County's contingent will need to have a say in. Football is also something that will also likely be revisited- at the moment, the five Washington County schools will remain independents. That is the only sport in which the five new schools will not be members of the league.

Although some new rules and regulations need to be set, it's obvious the expansion shows the CMC is continuing to go in the right direction.

"Our first year went great, could not have gone better," Kendro said. "Some may wonder why we're doing this. I view it as taking our league a step further and improving it."
September 19th, 2016By: Wick Eisenberg

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