I am an old, old fan of the SVC. I was wondering if you had a chance to read the article on WKKJ.com by Mike Smith and Dave McMillan about the SVC turning 50. If so, I wanted to know what jumps out at you about the history of the league. I thought it was neat to see what schools have won the most titles in certain sports. Also, which program(s) do you think should be considered the best in league history?
OLD, OLD FAN OF THE SVC, I did get a chance to read the article you are referring to and I thought it was extremely well written by Dave and Mike. I really enjoyed learning a lot about the history of the league. I am only 34 years old, so I only remember details about the league from about 1989 to present. I too thought it was an interesting list explaining which programs have won the most championships. The thing that I noticed has been the coaching longevity in the most successful programs. Most of the programs that were at the top have had very little turnover in head coaches. From Laura Smith to Larry Jordan to Bill Fetters to Don Neff, all the best programs seemed to dominate in certain time periods, and in all cases you are looking at one familiar leader at the top. You look at the other end of the spectrum and you see the opposite in terms of building a program. Often times when you analyze a program that has struggled to win, you will find several coaches in a short period of time. I can think of many recent examples in which seniors have graduated a program after playing for three different head coaches. I know this is often times the coach not wanting to stick with it, but it is also schools not wanting to commit certain resources to helping these programs be successful. There are some situations where a coach will stick with a program only to see it go in cycles.
As for the best program in history, I think Adena volleyball would have to be the pick; however, I do think Unioto baseball and Southeastern boys’ basketball both make a competitive case. Adena volleyball has 25 titles – 21 of which have come since 1990 – and the Lady Warriors have had good success at the state level as well. The reason I mention Unioto baseball and Southeastern boys’ basketball in this discussion is it is amazing to me that these programs have been able to win this many titles in sports the nature of baseball and basketball. In sports where upsets and overall parity are much more common, Unioto once won at least a share of seven straight league titles in the 90s (and 19 overall) and Southeastern has won 17 overall titles in basketball including an amazing stretch from 1974-1990 where the Panthers won 12 titles in 16 years.
I think the most knowledgeable fans must analyze deeper than championships in today’s time. I see a lot of schools and coaches doing some good things to improve programs. I feel more SVC leagues are becoming more balanced than they were 10 or 15 years ago. Hopefully this trend continues, because even though many of these schools will never be able to consistently compete for regular season league titles, I do think it will help improve the overall quality of the SVC and how our league is viewed throughout southeastern Ohio.