Amsterdam, Schuylerville look to join Foothills

AMSTERDAM – The second time may be the charm for Amsterdam in its bid to join the Foothills Council.

When Amsterdam previously applied to join the league for the 2012-13 school year, it was denied after the vote among the league’s existing schools ended in a 4-4 tie. The league’s northern schools – Hudson Falls, Glens Falls, Queensbury and South Glens Falls – voted no, citing increased transportation costs and an unbalanced league among their reasons. The league’s southern schools – Gloversville, Johnstown, Broadalbin-Perth and Scotia-Glenville – all approved of the move when it was last proposed.

Despite the previous rejection, Amsterdam remains interested in leaving the Big 10 Conference for the Foothills Council.

“I have notified our school board president, and we’re beginning the process of pursuing full membership in the Foothills Council for the 2014-15 school year,” Greater Amsterdam School District Superintendent Thomas Perillo said. “It is out there and it’s no secret that we’re interested.”

This time, the Rams will be joined in their effort by Schuylerville, a current member of the Wasaren League, which said it would apply for membership to the Foothills Council in a statement posted on the district’s website Tuesday.

“Schuylerville’s enrollment levels are much closer to those found in Foothills Council school districts than those in the Wasaren League schools,” Schuylerville athletic director Heath Morris said in the news release. “In essence, Schuylerville is a better match with the Foothills Council teams.”

In reviewing district data, the state has determined Schuylerville has 431 students in grades 9-11 eligible to play high school sports in the 2014-15 school year. In the Wasaren League, Granville has the next largest number of eligible students at 304, but the other Wasaren schools have numbers between 203 and 295. Schuylerville’s move to the Foothills Council would put it on more equal footing with opposing districts, as the Council schools have between 434 and 866 high school students, the release said.?

“This move also gives us the opportunity to more fully fill our game schedules in each sport and at each level,” Morris said in the release. “For this year, our athletes will lose out on playing in 29 contests due to Wasaren League schools’ inability to field teams at various levels. We want our players competing in as many games as possible so they’re making the most of their school athletic experiences.”

Schuylerville’s move may make it easier for Amsterdam this time around, as it would allow the Foothills to split its league into two divisions along geographic lines.?”If they apply and it goes through, I think Amsterdam would be great for our league,” Gloversville athletic director Mike DeMagistris said. “If Amsterdam and Schuylerville join the league, it would allow for two divisions. Everyone would play their division twice and the other division once. It would save drastically on transportation costs.”

If accepted, Amsterdam will leave the Big 10 Conference that consists of Schenectady, LaSalle Institute, Christian Brothers Academy, Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons, Bishop Maginn, Catholic Central, Albany and Troy.

“Now that Schuylerville has made a formal application to join the Foothills Council, we’re planning to reapply for membership,” Perillo said. “The first part of the process for us is that we have to reapply. Depending on what we hear from the Foothills Council, I would like to go to our school board at out next meeting Feb. 19 to move the process forward.”

The move to the Foothills Council by Amsterdam and Schuylerville would put teams from Amsterdam, Broadalbin-Perth, Gloversville, Johnstown and Scotia-Glenville in a southern division, while Hudson Falls, Queensbury, Glens Falls, South Glens Falls and Schuylerville would comprise the north division.

“It’s a very good fit for us. In the league we’re in right now, we have to pick up games for our girls teams because some of the schools don’t field teams,” Perillo said. “Geographically, it’s a good fit for us,” Perillo said. “We already play several of the Foothills Council teams in nearly all sports right now.”

The process to join the league starts with schools presenting letters of application from their respective Board of Education to the council secretary. The applications will be considered only if they have a full interscholastic program comparable to the Foothills Council. Membership into the league requires participation in all sports that are sanctioned by the league in which the school fields a team. Applications must be approved by a majority vote of the league’s schools by each of their school boards.

“If Amsterdam and Schuylerville do apply, it would make our league very strong,” DeMagistris said. “They are both strong schools and I think it would benefit our league across all levels.”

Morris said in the release that Schuylerville has been considering joining the Foothills Council for the last few years.

“This seems to be the right time to make the change, as many Wasaren League districts are cutting back on their athletic offerings and we want to ensure that Schuylerville students can have the best opportunities available to them,” he said in the release.?Schuylerville will host an informational session on the move Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. in the Schuylerville High School Chorus Room.

Both Schuylerville and Amsterdam already play several contests each year against Foothills Council schools.

“I’ve had the opportunity to work with [Amsterdam athletic director] Randy Hutto and [Schuylerville athletic director] Heath Morris before and they’ve both been great to work with,” he said. “I look forward to working with them on a regular basis if they do become part of our league. They both do great jobs at their schools.”

That feeling is shared by Perillo.

“The Foothills Council schools are great schools and great districts,” he said. “When we play them, they have have great kids on their teams. To say the least, we’re excited about the opportunity to reapply to join the Foothills Council.”