NORMAN — On the same day high school football teams began practice for the upcoming season, seven Oklahoma school districts announced the formation of the Central Oklahoma Athletic Conference (COAC).
The school districts of Moore, Norman, Edmond, Deer Creek, Stillwater and Yukon will compete in the new conference starting in the 2014-15 school year. All varsity and sub-varsity sports be under the COAC umbrella.
“We were invited to start an open dialogue about starting a new conference,” Moore High School athletics director Chad Mashburn said. “After looking at its benefits for our athletes it was hard not to want to be a part of it. At Moore High School we felt it was important to look at the future of our programs. The COAC gives us a strong voice in the state. The opportunity for scheduling all the way down the ladder was a big plus.”
This will be the last year of the Mid-State Conference, which is home to Norman, Norman North, Moore, Westmoore, Southmoore, Midwest City, Del City and Edmond Memorial.
All but Midwest City and Del City will be in the COAC, which will now include Edmond North, Edmond Santa Fe, Yukon, Mustang, Deer Creek and Stillwater.
The dissolving of the Mid-State Conference caught the Bombers off guard. According to Midwest City athletics director Darrell Hall, he had heard rumblings about a super conference, but thought his school district would be part of it. Hall said neither he nor the district athletics director found out they would be left to fend for themselves until they got a call telling them the Mid-State was breaking up and they would not be invited to the COAC.
“To not be in a conference when you were an original member of the Mid-State, to not be included or asked to be a part of, it is what it is,” Hall said. “To not find out about something until it’s all said and done, it doesn’t make you happy.”
Hall said he wasn’t given a reason officially on why Midwest City was left out in the cold.
“All I heard is they wanted to be with like-minded people or like-minded schools,” Hall said. “I think the interpretation is in the beholder. I don’t really know what it means. But it depends on who you talk to on what opinion you get on something like that.”
While the new conference has created a buzz, in certain sports it will not have much of an effect. That includes football and baseball, where the schedule and postseason are dictated by districts.
“For baseball we just implemented district play the last two seasons,” Westmoore coach Jared Foreman said. “Which means district games take up 16 of our 22 non-tournament games. The baseball coaches might be interested in playing a conference tournament at the end of season instead of trying to play everybody during the course of regular season. This would be a very competitive tournament ... and in some years it might be more difficult to win than the state tournament with the teams involved. Anything that better prepares my program for competing in the state tournament I am in support of.”
Sports like basketball, track and cross country will see the most dramatic changes in scheduling and who they will compete against in the postseason.
The COAC lists six key benefits for forming the conference. They include consistency in scheduling, expansion of student athlete and coach recognition, shared commitment in hosting athletic events and a unified voice to OSSAA for the conference’s interests.
“It gives us the abilities to preserve our rivalry games going forward,” Mashburn said. “It will continue to generate community support and excitement. It will also give us an opportunity to recognize our student athletes and coaches’ accomplishments. There will be many positives that come from this. It will first guarantee our rivalry games will stay in place. It will provide a strong schedule from our junior high to high school sports. It will provide a strong voice when dealing with the OSSAA and other conferences.”
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