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Catholic school girl’s leagues take big step toward intersectional format

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Girls’ sports in the Catholic High School Athletic Association league are heading for a long-overdue change.

The girls’ leagues will soon begin moving toward a multi-tiered intersectional format with AA, A and B divisions across all major sports, according to intersectional coordinator and Mary Louis athletic director Joe Lewinger.

Currently, girls’ teams play league games in their separate dioceses with no true city playoffs.

Catholic school boys’ teams, on the other hand, have competed in citywide playoffs for decades.

The process of finally changing that starts this fall with non-league crossover games between squads from the Brooklyn-Queens and Bronx-Westchester leagues. It’s an attempt to gauge teams’ level of play in order to help league officials put together an intersectional system as early as the 2014-2015 season that will provide better quality games — particularly for the leagues’ lower-level teams.

In soccer, Brooklyn-Queens Class AA teams had crossed over with Staten Island clubs in a similar manner for the last two years.

“What we are trying to do is address the parity situation in different leagues in the city,” Lewinger said. “We want to be able to increase the opportunities for competitive play on every level.”

The move was spurred by a competition disparity within the individual diocesan leagues, and a lack of competitive teams for games in leagues like Brooklyn-Queen’s top soccer and volleyball divisions.

This fall’s soccer and volleyball seasons start the process, and for the first time in the girls’ leagues, soccer will feature a true citywide championship game between the Brooklyn-Queens and Archdiocesan winner, scheduled for Nov. 6.

In Brooklyn, that means teams like St. Edmund and Bishop Kearney will cross over to play teams like St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catharine in soccer, and Fontbonne Hall will take on Preston and Spellman in volleyball. Softball will feature similar match-ups. In basketball, there will be crossover days on Nov. 23 at Monsignor Scanlan and Preston for the lower-level teams like St. Saviour and St. Edmund, and on Dec. 1 at Christ the King featuring some of the leagues’ top programs such as Bishop Loughlin.

“We are trying to use these games to assess where everyone kind of fits in,” Lewinger said. “So looking toward 2014-2015, we can hopefully come up with a system that works.”

This step is important because it’s an opportunity not just for teams to get to know each other, but for the coaches to start working together as well. At a meeting at St. John’s Prep in April, Lewinger said he saw many coaches introducing themselves to each other.

“Some may have never heard of each other’s school, and there they were giving an honest assessment of their programs,” Lewinger said.

More work and obstacles lie ahead, but this is an important step forward for the league in providing the athletes with a better experience and competition.

Reach reporter Joseph Staszewski at jstaszewski@cnglocal.com. Follow him on twitter @cng_staszewski.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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