By BEN MCCARTY
News staff writer
August 23, 2006
After four years away the Hood River Valley Eagles are returning to the Mt. Hood Conference.
Over the past four seasons coaches and players became used to long bus rides to Madras and all points east. Those days are gone.
Hood River Valley will be the eastern outpost of the Mt. Hood conference, meaning that the vast majority of trips will involve an hour jaunt down I-84 to play Portland area schools.
“You have to look at two things: the financial impact and the impact on the kids,” HRVHS athletic director Brent Walsh said. “The kids won’t miss as much class time and they get their Saturdays back.”
The money saved from travel costs will be able to go back into athletic programs and, and student-athletes will not have to miss nearly as much class time because of the shorter trips.
HRVHS will be one of four schools playing above their size classification in the conference.
The other schools are Sandy, St. Mary’s and Central Catholic, all of which are half the size or smaller than the conference’s two largest schools, David Douglas and Reynolds.
Nonetheless, the move provides a welcome change for the Eagles. “The Intermountain Conference and the Mt. Hood conference are fairly equivalent,” Walsh said. “Its about an even switch.”
Even though some of the schools in the conference are significantly larger than Hood River Valley, Walsh said that the breakdown of competitiveness in the sports comes about even. In the Intermountain conference some sports were more competitive than others, and Walsh feels that the Mt. Hood conference is about the same, with some sports being tough to compete in and others being less so.
While Walsh was adamantly opposed to the OSAA reclassification while serving as the athletic director at Sheldon High School, coming to Hood River has given him a different persective.
“It will be a benefit here,” Walsh said. “There will be continuity between middle school and high school in terms of competiveness.”
Furthermore, the cut-down on lengthy bus trips and long distance away games, means thatmore fans will be able to attend games both home and away.
“More people will get to see their kids play,” Walsh said.
The Eagles kick off play as a member of the Mt. Hood Conference when the football team plays its first game Sept. 1.