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SJPH boys find a home

June 13, 2003|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

Bruce Kelly's enthusiasm at St. John's at Prospect Hall might rival the same type of joy for a first newborn.

Along with his colleagues on Butterfly Lane in Frederick, Md., Kelly is ecstatic that SJPH, for the first time, will have its boys athletic teams in a bona fide athletic conference.

Friday was deadline day for the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association and the Vikings took the appropriate steps to accept the MIAA board approval. Along with Key School of Annapolis, the MIAA has expanded to 28 schools in three divisions.

"This entry into the MIAA legitimizes our athletic program," said Kelly, SJPH's athletic director and boys basketball coach. "For years we've had no conference, no playoffs, nothing to shoot for."

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The very first competition in the MIAA will be on Saturday, Sept. 6 when the Vikings boys soccer team plays at Chapelgate. It will be part of the B Conference, as will track & field, lacrosse and cross country.

Basketball and baseball will participate in the A Conference, and the football team will compete in the C Conference.

"Being in the MIAA puts a whole new perspective on our scheduling," Kelly said. "This is the big time. We will get to play the best teams in the Baltimore area."

Kelly, completing his fourth year as athletic director, said the football team will continue to play its home games at McCurdy Field in Frederick.

"The city of Frederick is excited and they have helped get a new scoreboard installed at McCurdy," Kelly said.

Kelly cited the desires of headmaster Richard Fairley as a key to the MIAA involvement.

"We have a headmaster that has wanted us to be a part of an organization," Kelly said. "We had conversations with the Mid Atlantic Conference (St. James) and some others, but the MIAA is the one that happened."

The SJPH girls already participate in the Interscholastic Association of Maryland (IAM), as they have for the past three years.

The move is a big step forward for the football program, while the basketball program will play some of the top schools, such as Archbishop Spalding and Cardinal Gibbons.

"We won't be eligible for the MIAA tournament in the first year," Kelly said, also noting that the SJPH boys basketball team will continue to play in the Sleepy Thompson Invitational at the end of next season.

The MIAA voted to abolish its two-year combined MIAA-BCL postseason basketball tournament, which will leave a one-week void in the March schedule. Along with the Thompson meet, SJPH will go against St. Maria Goretti, which is a regular in the Baltimore Catholic League scheme.

The BCL tourney will have to wait for the MIAA tourney to conclude before it is played, leaving Goretti with the extra week. Coach Cokey Robertson said a game with Bishop Walsh, along with SJPH, would fill the extra time.

Goretti annually has played McDonogh School, an MIAA member, as part of the BCL competition. That will change next season, as no games will be on the docket.

When the original schedule was released, Goretti was not even a part of the schedule.

"The BCL has, and will not disband," Goretti athletic director Carol Brashears said. "The BCL Tournament has been very successful."

There were indications that the voting powers of the MIAA narrowly approved the inclusion of St. John's. The hesitancy was due to the travel requirements from the Baltimore area up to Frederick County.

The MIAA adjusted its 15-mile radius around Baltimore for member teams, but that won't entice Goretti to become an MIAA member in the near future.

"I don't think so for at least the next couple of years," Brashears said. "Boys baseball, our soccer and golf are in the Apple Valley League. It's nice to play close-in teams, so I'd say it is only something that may or may not be considered in the future."

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