Emptying the Inbox in Preparation for the Upcoming Season
Shayne Combs,
INBOX #4: I know some of your major sponsorship is Triple Crown and they are big into promoting
soccer. What are your thoughts in soccer becoming a league sport?

First, I would like to thank Triple Crown for their continued support. As we announced on Twitter today as well as the
website, Triple Crown has agreed to sponsor our sixth year of SVC Sports Talk. We will start the sixth season later
this month.  I also think it is worth making the connection between the work of Triple Crown and the growth of soccer
in the area. Over the past five or six years It is amazing to think of the number of kids through elementary and
middle school ages  involved in their soccer programs and how that is now directly impacting the high school

Turning to the thoughts of soccer becoming a league sport, I have a wide range of opinions. First, it is ironic how
many programs have different views about this. Many of the more-established programs are leery of a league and a
schedule where they are forced to play these newer programs. This can sometimes hurt come tournament time
when they are forced to play a higher level of competition. As for the new programs it can also be a tough transition.
They are often times “in over their heads” in terms of playing varsity soccer. All told, you have to start somewhere
and in time soccer will continue to grow and get better; however, in the short term it is a tough process. The fact that
we are only talking about a small amount of matches makes it a win-win for all involved in the growth of soccer in the

As I talk to soccer people throughout the area I find it is taking off at most schools. At this point, Huntington and
Paint Valley will not have soccer programs. Many of the other six schools are playing boys and girls (actually it is
being said that girls are in many cases growing more rapid than boys in terms of participation), and it is just a matter
of time until boys and girls are playing for league titles in the SVC.

The final thought I will give on this matter comes from the enrollment discussion. Many people feel there are too
many fall sports and that this spreads athletes thin. People want to know how this can influence the major fall sports
like football and volleyball. The fact is it obviously influences these sports. Anything that takes a wide receiver,
running back, setter or outside hitter away from one program will weaken that program. Meanwhile, smaller schools
like Paint Valley and Huntington are not losing kids to this sport. The bigger the soccer programs get at the bigger
schools it can start to offset the enrollment difference.

Look back . . . look below to responses from earlier in week including SVC Volleyball, Expansion, College/Pro
impact on HS

INBOX #2 (PART TWO with PART ONE below from yesterday's response): I know you guys stay 100% SVC
high school (which is something I love about your site), but I do think it is impossible to truly discuss
certain HS topics without looking at college and professional and how they trickle down. With this in
mind, I have two questions: (1) How do you think all the realignment in college conferences will (has)
impact high school (aka the SVC expansion talk of recent years)? (2) The Kevin Durant decision to follow
LeBron’s lead and create the super team is certainly something we have witnessed in our local sports.
How much blame (for a lack of better term) do these decisions deserve for what we are seeing at the HS

I don’t know if a “direct” blame is fair, but anytime you are talking about a culture that
has been established you certainly can’t overlook the impact of our world’s most influential role models. Beyond just
making a decision to team up with other great players, I think the bigger connection is to look at the culture these
current stars have come up through and are currently shaping for today’s younger people to watch. This is the
culture of players having options (such as AAU basketball or an older player being recruited or having the luxury of
free agency) and the freedom these young players have year around rather than just playing for a high school in
the winter. Many of today’s superstars at the age of 30 and younger have come up through this different culture. I
can remember the generation before; it was weird just playing Gus Macker with a kid from another school. It was a
school pride thing of we were from Unioto and they were from somewhere else. I know that sounds crazy to say
today, but back then it was one thing to be friends with a Bearcat, a Pioneer, or a Panther but completely another
thing to play with them rather than against them. Now in a day of social media kids from all over are friends and the
discussion and the freedom to move is really the norm.

It is commonplace to play organized basketball with a mixture of players from throughout your area. If a family looks
hard enough there are plenty of options for kids to find a particular team that fits them well. This quickly leads to a
willingness throughout all age groups to move team to team until you find something that works. It becomes less to
do with the name on the front of the jersey and more to do with an individual goal. It has led to two different
unfortunate things. One, kids play for their school without a true passion for their school. They play for their school
with the idea of it being a warmup for their “other” teams. The second thing is the willingness to move school to
school. You can blame the OHSAA or whoever you want, but it really goes beyond them. It is culture. It is a parent
willing to sign over guardianship to make for a change. It is a family being willing to rent a property to establish a
spot in a new school district. All of these things are well within the rules (and the OHSAA is constantly trying to get
ahead of it with revisions of the rule), and it is not my place to tell any parent how to provide for a son or daughter.
This is why I am not responding to this email to judge, but rather to simply say this generation of athletes have
grown up and are growing up in a different culture.

(PART ONE FROM AUGUST 2nd) Due to the length of this email, today is my PART ONE response concerning
conference realignment. Check back tomorrow for my thoughts on how the NBA stars have trickled down to the high
school level.

As for the expansion talk, it can sometimes feel like overkill, and we at the website try to understand the well-known
stance of the league which says the league has no desire to change. With that said, I am amazed how strong the
opinions are on this topic throughout the conference. The website consistently gets emails such as this one asking a
question or giving a comment on the topic of expansion. My thoughts on this topic have never really changed (so I
apologize to our longtime readers of the website or our listeners of SVC Sports Talk if this sounds repetitive). Where
my thoughts do expand as a result of this email is trying to look at how it relates to the national scene in terms of
college conferences.

I think conferences are forced to react to what is happening around them. In our area over the past several years,
there are certain schools and certain conferences that have been anything but consistent. With this in mind, you
certainly can understand why the SVC loves the security of having the ideal setup in terms of geography, tradition,
and continuity. This is why I have always understood the SVC’s stance. At the college level, the people making these
decisions see big markets vs. small markets and factors that make for major network deals and fat pockets. In high
school it is more about pinching pennies and making sure a profit of some kind is made. These factors include travel
and attendance at all levels for all events.

In short, these factors represent the reasons I feel the league is making the correct decision to stay put. If I am
speaking for the league, the SVC has way too much to risk in terms of changing. The interesting thing about this
email is the fact that many college conferences are forced to breakup and realign due to a member leaving for a
different situation. This will most likely be the eventual factor of change (if and when it someday does take place).
For the SVC to change, the only path I see is if a current member decides a change is needed for their individual
school. This cut to the current format would then force the league to take a look at new members, which could
possibly start a domino effect.

One final thought I would throw into the discussion is that although I do think the SVC should hold strong, I see no
problem in just listening. The SVC holds the power. The SVC has so many things that so many other conferences
want for themselves; therefore, what would be the problem with just listening?

Look back . . . look below to see post on SVC volleyball

Hard to believe it is August – time for to fire-up for the upcoming season. I start a day at a time
emptying the inbox. August 1st starts with SVC volleyball as I was asked to look at this year's league race as well as
the POY possibilities

As I empty the inbox over the next few weeks, I will respond to topics that include conference realignment, Kevin
Durant’s influence on high school, Mike Smith’s impact on the SVC, baseball pitch count, and many, many more. If
you have a question/comment, please let us know on Twitter, Facebook, or if you would rather ask privately you can
do so at

INBOX #1: Always get excited this time of year for high school sports. You talk a lot about “gaps” in a
league race. Where will the “gap” be in this year’s volleyball league? Top/bottom half? Adena and
everyone else? Also, what are your thoughts on POY in volleyball this year?

If you combine what Adena and Unioto have coming back with what Westfall, Huntington, and Zane Trace lose, I
would say the “gap” is found after these two elite teams at the top. Both programs have great experience, and they
contain few weaknesses. Both have great coaches. Both are rock-solid at setter, and both have good depth in terms
of passers and hitters.  

All this adds up to a two-team race in terms of the SVC title, but it could certainly make the POY race interesting. In
most cases, the POY will come from the champion, and that will most likely be the case if we have an outright
champion. This brings up names like Madi Eberst leading what should be a very balanced Unioto attack, or Adena’s
Lanie Shea for the same reason. Certainly, a name like Devon Putnam from Adena and Abbey Winegardner from
Unioto will be in the mix as well.

Another way of looking at it comes from the chance of Adena and Unioto (again, both with a very balanced attack
with several all-league players) splitting head-to-head and sharing the league. This can sometimes open the debate
to teams beyond the top two teams. This brings us to a second potential gap of looking at how much Paint Valley,
Piketon, and Southeastern (all with several returners) can shorten the gap on Westfall, Huntington, and Zane Trace
(all teams losing several  players).

If Huntington can find a way to beat the rest of the league and repeat last year’s 10-4 mark that would certainly bring
Rikki Magill into the discussion. Magill is a player who can impact a match in just about every statistical category. Her
biggest challenge this year, while leading a youthful team, will be playing with great efficiency.

If that second gap I mentioned does shrink and Piketon and Southeastern are able to turn respective 4-10 and 3-11
league records into a better than .500 mark, perhaps names like Cami Chandler or Ella Skeens would become
contenders. Chandler really showed herself to be one of the league’s bright young stars a year ago, and I believe is
ready to take another step in 2016. Skeens is simply as good as any athlete our league has had in recent years,
and the more volleyball experience she gets the more she will impact a match not just at the net but in all areas.

It will be fun to evaluate the preseason and then make some more definite predictions, but for now, I think Adena
and Unioto are elite with the rest of the league seeing who can reload the quickest or can improve on last year’s