Amsterdam approved to join Foothills Council

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

The district was approved, along with Schuylerville, by a unanimous vote to join the league for the 2014-15 season at a Foothills Council meeting in Saratoga Springs on Thursday.

“We’re very excited to have the opportunity to join the Foothills Council,” Amsterdam athletic director Randy Hutto said. “It certainly helps our programs and it’s a great fit for us.”

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 schedule 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.

To join the league, schools must have their applications approved by a majority of the league’s school boards.

This time, Schuylerville also applied to join the Foothills Council, giving the league an even 10 teams for the 2014-15 season.

“It’s always great to add teams that want to come into the league,” Johnstown athletic director James Robare said. “Both Amsterdam and Schuylerville are excited about the move, and we’re happy to have them as part of the league.”

Now that the additions of Amsterdam and Schuylerville have been approved, the Foothills Council will split into two divisions for several of its athletic offering, with 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.

“Playing is the Foothills Council give us the opportunity to play several local districts in Broadalbin-Perth, Johnstown, Gloversville and Scotia-Glenville,” Hutto said.

In the new format, schools would play their division rivals twice, while playing teams from the other division once, making for a 13-game league schedule with the possibility of a crossover contest to even the number of league games at 14.

“It makes everything much simpler for scheduling for our girls and modified programs,” Hutto said. “One of best parts of the league is that everyone has a full compliment of sports.”

In the fall, Amsterdam offers its student-athletes the opportunity to participate in league-play in boys and girls soccer, cross country, girls tennis, girls swimming, volleyball and golf. In the winter, the school offers boys and girls basketball, boys swimming, indoor track, wrestling and bowling, while offering baseball, softball, track and field, boys tennis and boys lacrosse in the spring.

“Our coaches have been fantastic,” Hutto said. “They’re excited about the changes we’re making.”

Schuylerville offers boys soccer, girls soccer, field hockey, cross country, volleyball, golf during the fall season, while participating in boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, skiing, indoor track and wrestling during the winter season. In the spring, Schuylerville offers softball, baseball, track and field, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse and tennis.

Football is played by classification instead of a league format.

“It strengthens our league. It’s an opportunity for us to play a bigger school in our division,” Robare said. “We’re looking forward to friendly competition with Amsterdam. I think it will help community wise and may get more people to attend games as well. I think it’s a good and positive step for the vision that we have for the league as administrators.”

According to the 2013-14 classification numbers of the NYSPHSAA website, Amsterdam has 886 students in grades 9 to 11 eligible to play high school sports, making it a Class A school (480-909 students). Six of eight schools in the current Foothills Council are Class A, with the remaining two in Class B (280-479 students), including Johnstown (452) and Broadalbin-Perth (434). Schuylerville, which is the largest school in the Wasaren League, also is a Class B school with 431 students.

Of the schools in the Big 10, which is a mix of public and private schools, five are Class AA (910 students and up), including Schenectady (2,002 students) and Albany (1,742 students). Three are Class A (Troy, Amsterdam and Catholic Central), and Bishop Gibbons is Class B.

However, the Big 10 offers more boys programs than girls programs, leaving plenty of holes for Hutto to fill in his schedules.

“Scheduling non-league games is always tough. Teams in other leagues pretty much have a dance card and a full complete schedule. We’ve had to ask for one or two games from a number of schools to fill out our schedules, especially on the girls’ side.”

With the move to the Foothills, scheduling will be much easier and the scheduling process is expected to be completed for the fall season by next Thursday.

“We’re going to move on coming up with our fall schedule in the next seven days,” Robare said. “Besides helping strengthen our league, it helps regionalize other schedules as well.”

Though it was a founding member of the Big 10 Conference, Amsterdam is looking forward to the opportunity to begin a new chapter in its athletic history.

“The Foothills Council is a great league,” Hutto said. “We’re not gonna dominate. We’re just going to plug along and be a good contributing member of the league.”