Fourteen years ago Revere Schools left the Greater Boston League for the Northeastern Conference (NEC), something many coaches past and present thought was a mistake.
Less than two years later the GBL was a shell of its former self with only four teams making up the entire league after Revere’s departure.
“It was left with only Malden, Medford, Somerville and Everett,” said Revere School Athletic Director Frank Shea. “Four schools really doesn’t make a competitive league. The teams and kids that were left were forced to play against one another, had a hard time filling schedules and attracting players.”
Two years ago the NEC principals decided to allow the GBL teams into the NEC through a pilot program with some provisos. One proviso stated that the four teams would be accepted but the NEC principals would reconvene in four years and decide whether or not the pilot program was working.
However, Shea said administrators at some of the NEC schools who were replaced with principals that were not in favor of the pilot program caused a stir.
“Instead of waiting the four years they pushed the vote up to this past January and voted 7 to 5 to throw the schools out of the league,” said Shea.
Shea, with the backing of Revere School Superintendent Dianne Kelly, drew a line in the sand. After the ousting of the four GBL schools, Shea submitted a letter to the NEC principals stating Revere desire to leave the NEC.
Last Friday the NEC principals voted to allow Revere to leave the NEC on June 30. The only proviso placed on Revere’s departure is that the football program will have to remain in the NEC for the next two years.
“Many in the community were well aware that we (Revere Schools) have been contemplating departing the NEC to rejoin some of the districts we use to compete with in the Greater Boston League and establish a re-envisioned GBL,” said Supt. Kelly.
Shea testified at the last Revere School Committee meeting that in the short time that the GBL teams were part of the NEC, something became very clear.
“Over the course of those two years as our teams competed against one another I noticed that we shared many things in common,” said Shea. “In terms of the size of the (sports) programs, the types of programs offered, the enrollment, the diversity, the culture, is was all very similar to our schools and our programs. So I had discussions with current and former Revere coaches about leaving the NEC and the one thing they kept saying was ‘we should have never left’.”
As for the proviso that Revere football has to stay in NEC, Shea said that was something he expected.
“The biggest problem with the move was football because football schedules are made six to nine months in advance,” said Shea. “It’s very difficult to get non-league football opponents. So when I met with the NEC athletic directors, I said, ‘if you let us go with the GBL we’d be willing to keep our football program in the NEC for one more year.’”
In the end the NEC athletic directors took Shea’s proposal to the NEC voting principals, but the voting members decided it was best for Revere to remain in the NEC for not just one, but two full years.