July 23, 2014

Elyria
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Avon joins SWC, will make switch in 2015-16 season

AVON — The Southwestern Conference will return to an eight-member association when Avon joins the league in 2½ years.

The SWC voted to accept Avon, now a member of the West Shore Conference, as a full conference member for the 2015-16 school year, conference commissioner Michael McCarthy announced in a news release Thursday.

“The quality of Avon’s academic, athletic, extra-curricular and co-curricular programs and facilities provides a fitting match with the other member schools of the (conference),” McCarthy said.

The conference will operate with seven members for two years, as members Berea and Midpark are consolidating beginning with the 2013-14 school year.

“Obviously, we’re pleased,” McCarthy said. “It has been a successful format with eight teams. Avon has been in the discussion for a while. There have been many discussions, knowing there would be a vacancy. Given the district’s growth, and Avon’s success over the years, and the facilities, we look at this as a positive step.”

Besides the newly formed Berea-Midpark High School, the other SWC members include Amherst, Avon Lake, Brecksville-Broadview Heights, North Olmsted, Olmsted Falls and Westlake.

If Avon had been in the SWC this year, it would have been the smallest member. With the rapid growth the district has experienced in the past few years, Avon could catch up to the other members soon.

“I believe our second-grade class is the largest in school history,” said Erich Frombach, Avon’s athletic director. “When we look at the growth of our schools, we see our numbers as being comparable to the others in the conference. We looked at the sports they play and the levels of sports the other schools play and we think it’s a better opportunity for our kids.

“The sad part is we’re leaving some great people — administrators, coaches and teachers,” Frombach said of the WSC. “We’ll miss it.”

Frombach said Avon’s teams are familiar with the SWC, having met opponents from the conference in all sports except football and volleyball in postseason tournaments.

“We’re getting into a more stable conference that will meet our needs as we grow in enrollment,” said Mike Elder, Avon’s football coach. “This wasn’t just a football decision. It was a decision for all our athletes. The West Shore has been a competitive conference for us. I’ll enjoy competing against them for the next two years. But I’m also excited about eventually being in the new conference.”

Avon High School has an enrollment of 816 students in grades 9-12. The next-smallest SWC school is Olmsted Falls with 877. Brecksville has the largest enrollment at 1,113.

Avon is a founding member of the WSC, whose current members also include Bay, Elyria Catholic, Lakewood, Midview, North Ridgeville, Rocky River and Vermilion.

Contact Steve Byrne at 329-7135 or stephenbyrne@att.net.