Cooperation has been key to TRAC formationWritten by Chris Schmidbauer | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Anytime there is an accomplishment, like the formation of the new Three Rivers Athletic Conference (TRAC), there is a good degree of teamwork involved to get the endeavor off the ground.
“All of what you have seen is a result of a collaborative effort between our member schools,” Ken Myers, the first commissioner of the TRAC said.
What started out as a reactionary plan to major Toledo Public Schools cuts that dramatically affected the landscape of prep sports, TRAC is quickly trying to establish itself as a model league in the state of Ohio.
During the opening remarks of the league’s Sportsmanship Conference, May 4 at Bowling Green State University, League President and Fremont Ross Principal Jose Hernandez said that there was one goal in mind: to create the best high school sports in the state of Ohio.
“Our schools, their administrators, principals and athletic directors set out with a vision in mind of what they wanted this conference to be,” Myers said. “We want to be a leader not just in Northwest Ohio but around the state as well.”
Being the best league does not mean it is just about wins and state championships though.
“We really wanted to lay groundwork that it is not just about sports,” Myers said. “When we drafted our league constitution, we wanted to make it clear that there are expectations we have of our schools and the student athletes. We want this to be a class organization.”
That first step was the Sportsmanship Conference. TRAC had students from each of the member schools represent their individual sport and come together to discuss the tenants of sportsmanship and how the league can be an example of it.
“We want to make sure that when people look at our league, we wanted them to see the best we had to offer,” Myers said. “We know we are going to be competitive in the state, but we want our league and our athletes to be as well-rounded as possible.”
The fact that a high school league would take the time to host such an event might come as a shock to some, but looking at the brief history of the league, it might be the norm for TRAC.
Since TPS announced the elimination of all freshman and junior high sports and some sports completely, there has been a sense of sportsmanship and cooperation that has resulted in the birth of the TRAC.
“I have been working on this for over a year now,” said Tom Snook, athletic director at Whitmer High School. “When the old City League athletic directors got together and started putting this together, we have been working together doing all we can to fast-track the process.”
Fremont Ross athletic director Art Bucci said that this league could not have come together without teamwork.
“It has been a quick nine months, but there has been so much hard work put in by the principals, administrators and athletic directors,” he said. “To see this vision coming together is neat.”
Snook said cooperation among the member schools has been a huge help to getting TRAC started.
“It’s been really nice,” he said. “Everyone has been cooperating together to make decisions that will be in the best interest of our league and not just their schools. It’s also allowed us to think outside of the box and do some things that we haven’t been able to do before.”
Bucci said establishing TRAC has been a pleasure for him.
“In my 15 years as athletic director there hasn’t been an experience like this,” he said. “All of the schools came together with the idea of making this league the best for our students, and I think we have done that.”
Myers said a lack of cooperation among the 10 schools would have only complicated the process.
“If everyone came in with their own agendas, this would’ve never happened,” he said. “But everyone wants what is best for the kids.”
While there is still work left to be done before next football season, TRAC’s first competition year, Bucci said the member schools made the right decision to join the new league.
“I think we have all found a home,” he said. “The TRAC is going to be a tremendous league not only sports-wise but also for sportsmanship, camaraderie and character. We couldn’t be prouder of that.”
Chris Schmidbauer is Toledo Free Press sports editor. Email him at email@example.com.