Loomis Basin Athletic League off and running

In an effort to cut costs, improve control, Loomis Union makes own league
By: Eric J. Gourley, Gold Country News Service
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When Glenn Lockwood designed and orchestrated the creation of a standalone athletic league for the Loomis Union School District last year, he had two major goals. The H. Clarke Powers principal wanted to save the district money while improving control over sports scheduling and rules. Lockwood assembled the Loomis Basin Athletic League, and the district’s seven K – 8 schools soon withdrew from the expansive Sierra Foothill League in which they had participated since before the principal arrived at Powers 22 years ago. As the debut league rolls into its spring sports season, Lockwood and other district officials are pleased with its success. “In the economic times we’re dealing with we had to cut back on expenditures and we thought we could better address the finances if we established our own league,” Lockwood said. “We decided we needed to make some changes financially, and this allowed us to start small and make sure that it worked. It’s been a great transition. We’re pretty excited.” The league includes the district’s seven member schools: Loomis, Franklin, Placer, Penryn, Ophir, Loomis Basin Charter and H. Clarke Powers. Newcastle Elementary expressed interest and has been approved to join the league next year as the eighth school. “We wanted to get it off the ground initially before considering other schools,” Lockwood said. “We didn’t want to create a problem for the other league by pulling out. We just had to do what we had to do financially.” The league offers the same set of sports — cross country, basketball, wrestling, track and field and volleyball — but saves the district money by eliminating league fees and cutting down transportation costs. “Parents are happy to be around here, driving locally, getting to games on-time instead of driving to Foresthill or other far away places,” said Rick Judd, Loomis Grammar School principal. “Location-wise, it’s much more reasonable for the parents. Traveling was so expensive.” The league also brought more control to schools in the district. “We wanted to have our rules,” said Judd, who joined the district the same year as Lockwood. “We went to other schools with different rules and we ran into different philosophies on what was important. We believe in development and competitiveness. We don’t believe in destroying and manipulating the game and pulling kids up just to win.” League bylaws also limit the amount of action teams can schedule, eliminating the problems caused by overzealous coaches who frequently scheduled dozens of games in the former league. With the exception of wrestling and track, which still schedule competition against schools from outside the league, the league mirrors the high school version of the Sierra Foothill League, in which teams play each other once on each school’s turf. “I don’t know if the kids really notice any difference with the new league, although I think they like playing each other home and away,” said Judd, whose track team at Loomis Grammar has its first meet scheduled for April 8 at Del Oro High. Judd also hopes his school will host dual meets this spring for the first time in more than a decade. Lockwood said the positive reinforcement began during the new league’s first season last fall. “We had never had a cross country dual meet,” he said. “We finally had a school-against-school league meet. It gave our kids more opportunities to run and more opportunities to plate, running weekly with 12-15 kids instead of every two weeks against 100 kids.” The cross country season concluded with a league tournament meet. “It was like an exclamation point to ‘already this is the right thing to do,’” Lockwood said.