By Michael Kinney
The Moore American
MOORE — 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 district — Moore, Norman, Edmond, Deer Creek, Stillwater, 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 athletic 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 currently houses Norman, Norman North, Moore, Westmoore, Southmoore, Midwest City, Del City and Edmond Memorial.
Midwest City and Del City were not asked to be part of the new COAC, which will now include NHS, North, Moore, Westmoore, Southmoore, Edmond Memorial, 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 MWC athletic director Darrell Hall, he had heard rumblings about a super conference, but thought they would we part of it. He didn't find out until all the decisions had been made that the Bombers would not be included.
"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," MWC athletic director Darrell Hall said. "To not find out about something until it's all said and done, it doesn't make you happy."
Hall said the reason he was given on why MWC was not asked to be in the COAC is because officials wanted "like minded" schools.
"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."
The COAC will use the 2013-14 school year to elect officers, enact bylaws and schedule for the 2014-15 school year. The 12 schools will continue to include out-of-conference games on their team’s schedule.
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 teams are in.
"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 none 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 that I think would be very competitive and in some years it might be more difficult to win than the state tournament with the teams involve. 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 how they schedule games an who they will compete against in the postseason.
The COAC list 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 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 gives 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 Jr. high to high school sports. It will provide a strong voice when dealing with the OSSAA and other conferences."