Archive for Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Mill Valley A.D. thinks often about taking the next step

August 9, 2006

For the third straight school year, Mill Valley had the best athletic programs across the board in the Kaw Valley League.

The Jaguars won six out of 13 possible league titles in 2005-06 and with their dominance in the Kaw Valley, some wonder if it's time for Mill Valley to join a new league.

"At some point I think we have to decide if we should pursue another league so that we can get that 5A-6A competition night in and night out," Mill Valley athletic director Matt Bohm said.

Bohm also said that although Mill Valley has won a majority of the league titles the past three school years (six in 2004-05 and 10 in 2003-04), the Jags are not completely dominating the competition. Lansing closed the gap this year and 4A schools Tonganoxie and Bonner Springs aren't far behind.

In each sport, Mill Valley has had formidable competition. For boys' basketball this past year, it was Piper. In girls' track, it was Tonganoxie. Each KVL school seems to have a niche program, but Mill Valley has been consistently strong in almost every sport. Why that is -- Bohm attributes it somewhat to the size of the school (Mill Valley has the highest enrollment), but the main reason has nothing to do with numbers.

"I feel like we have a pretty good coaching staff," Bohm said. "The coaches that we have hired are very knowledgeable about their sport."

Bohm has let the coaches do their thing, taking more of a watch from a distance approach than hands on. He said it's key to let them do their job.

But Bohm also said he wants to best equip his coaches and athletes with what they need to be successful. One area where Mill Valley has been lacking in its success since the school's conception is in state appearances.

The boys' basketball team broke through for the first time this year to the state tournament -- the highlight of the year for the athletic department, Bohm said -- but state appearances have been far and few between over the years for the Jags.

"It's interesting playing in a predominately 4A league and then having to play postseason against 5A competition," Bohm said. "Depending on what sport it is it's definitely a change and that's something that I think about on a daily basis, are we doing the right thing by staying in the Kaw Valley league?"

Bohm has explored other options for Mill Valley. He said once every couple of weeks he discusses the possibility with other local athletic directors of starting a new league with the other 5A schools in the area. If Mill Valley were to join a new league, Bohm said some possible league-mates would be Gardner-Edgerton, Ottawa, Shawnee Heights and Turner.

As far as joining another league in the area with bigger schools like the Sunflower League or East Kansas League, Bohm said that was out of the question right now.

For now, Mill Valley is happy in the Kaw Valley League and Bohm said the other athletic directors in the league have made it clear that they would understand if Mill Valley were to explore other options. Until then, the Jags plan on continuing to be the class of the KVL.

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