The athletic department at Amelia High School is looking forward to restarting and renewing rivalries with other Clermont County and former Clermont County League (CCL) schools as a member of the Southern Buckeye Conference (SBC).
The Barons last school year in the CCL was 1984-85. Batavia dropped out of the league following the same school year and Goshen left after the 1985-86 school year. Amelia entered the Cross County Conference, Batavia, the Miami Valley Conference, and Goshen, the Fort Ancient Valley Conference.The last school year the CCL existed was 1986-87.
Then the Southern Buckeye Conference was established beginning the 1987-88 school year. When the CCL folded it was the second oldest continually operating high school athletic league in the state following the South Central Ohio League.
James Collins is an Amelia graduate and his alma mater's athletic director. He said, "There are no negatives about changing conferences. The location and the travel to the SBC schools will be much better and there will be more community involvement with us playing neighborhood rivals.
"Our coaches took a vote to change leagues and it was passed unanimously 18-0. This is going to renew natural rivalries. Our biggest gates have been against the Clermont County schools. . . "
"Our kids feel they have a chance to win. The FAVC is a great league, but it was just not for us."
Mark Crouse owns many Amelia football records that he recorded in the early 1980s. He is a member of his alma mater's sports hall of fame. Today he is a girls basketball coach at the barony. He said, "It'll help our kids's confidence. The Southern Buckeye will be good in the long run for all of our teams. More kids will come out for the teams if they think we have a chance of winning."
"It's a good thing. We'll be more competitive and we're closer with the SBC schools in distance and attitude," said Carla Fite, varsity volleyball coach and a Western Brown alumnae.
Randy Hospelhorn is the Barons' head football coach. The 1968 Glen Este graduate said, "We'll have to be prepared to play some different schools. I know it will be competitive and that anybody can be beaten on a given night. We'll have to be ready to play each game. I'm anxious to get started. There are some very good teams in the new league. Two of those conference's (football) teams made the state playoffs last year."
"I'm very excited. We'll be having more natural rivalries with schools in our neighborhood and that are more like us," said Shane Heikenfeld, head boys and girls cross country coach. "We can compete better in the new conference. It'll be nice to be able to be competitive for a championship."
Tara Shepherd Kaiser is the head girls basketball coach and a member of the AHS Sports Hall of Fame. She said, "The kids want to win. We'll win more in the new league, but it won't be easy. It's going to be good to play close to home and play kids more like us. It'll be good for our kids. Depth will make a difference for us, but the teams of the SBC have good players."
"I'm looking forward to competing in the new conference. Overall it's a good move for us," said Amy Kemmer, the head coach of the girls varsity soccer team. "We worked hard to be competitive in the FAVC and we hope to carry that work over into the SBC. What we're going to need is to have a strong non-conference schedule against schools from larger conferences."
Brad Koewler is a Glen Este graduate who is the head baseball coach at the barony. He said, "I'm really looking forward to the move. I see nothing, but positive from it."
Craig Mazzaro is an Amelia alumnus who has coached several sports at his alma mater, currently guiding the varsity boys and girls bowling teams. He said, "Being in the SBC is where we're at competition-wise. We're more equal with them with feeders, facilities, and numbers. It'll be much better for the morale of the athletes and the school. We had good teams in the FAVC, but they just weren't good enough to win in the FAVC. Most of those schools had too much talent."
Mazzaro is taking a wait-and-see approach to the future of the bowling program since Goshen is the only SBC school that competes in that sport. The Warriors, too, began competing on the lanes when they were a member of the FAVC.
"It's a good move to just be back to our roots," said boys basketball and boys tennis coach Rick McMullen, a grad of Western Brown. "We're a lot bigger size, but we've evened up with some of the schools somewhat. We'll be competing on a lot more level playing field. Our gates will be better, too. It'll be fun knowing we're going to be a lot more competitive. It's a chance to compete and win championships again."
"I like it. We'll be more competitive in the SBC. I like playing all the other county schools," said Tim West, the girls tennis coach and a graduate of Bethel-Tate.
""I'm excited to go back where the success of our program got started," said head wrestling coach Derrick Tessoff, an Amelia graduate. "This league is tougher than the FAVC Cardinal in wrestling. They have good programs like Goshen, New Richmond, and Western Brown. It'll be a step up for our program."
"The Southern Buckeye teams are competitive. We're still going to have to play solid ball," said Amelia grad and AHS Sports Hall of Fame member Kelley Reynolds Throckmorton. "We stand a chance of doing well and winning in the SBC if we keep developing. It's a good softball league. There are good softball players in the league."