The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio


May 11, 2013

A Don McCormack column: A Spartan existence

Conneaut’s plight as it desperately searches for a league to call home branches in many directions


Partners in isolation

Since then, longtime fierce rivals Conneaut and Edgewood, have been pretty much in a lifeboat, desperately searching for the figurative ship of a new conference to call home to spot them bobbing in the waves.

Officials from both schools turned over every possible stone in search of a place to call home, to allow them to come staggering in from the dessert that is Life As An Independent.

Despite the fact officials from both schools have spent the past few years sending out SOS messages, no one heard — or answered, anyway — their pleas.

Until the AAC, which has rebooted more than once in its young existence, extended some feelers, including to Edgewood and Conneaut.

Buoyed by the potential to be part of a conference again, hopes ran high at both schools that the AAC would agree to take them in, especially when league officials toured both schools’ athletic facilities.

But when it was announced last week that the AAC would offer only one — Edgewood — an invitation to join its embrace, Conneaut was left waiting at the altar.

What happened?

With Edgewood almost a lock to accept the AAC’s invitation, and with Pymatuning Valley having the option to do the same or to remain in the Northeastern Athletic Conference, Conneaut will be proof that, yes, a man can be an island, so to speak.

What didn’t the AAC like when it looked Conneaut’s way?

Likely, it was the older sports facilities, which were toured by the AAC search crew a few weeks ago, especially tiny Garcia Gymnasium. Those things, though, can be upgraded, as is shown by Conneaut Stadium, though it will take still more private funding to do so.

What can’t be changed, though, is geography. Being located in the upper northeast corner of Ashtabula County, it’s perceived by many that Conneaut is simply too far a drive to be part of a conference such as the AAC, which is dominated by Trumbull County schools.

Having spoken with many people from schools across the AAC, that is, unfortunately, the perception.

And in terms of conference affiliation, perception is, like it or not, reality.

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