For over 30 years, Marlborough sports teams have been part of the Sunshine League along with Marymount High School, Notre Dame Academy, Ramona Convent Secondary School and Immaculate Heart High School, within the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Southern Section. However, starting in the fall of the 2014-2015 school year, Marlborough will join a new association that combines the current Sunshine League with the Mission League, which consists of Alemany High School, Chaminade High School, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, Harvard-Westlake School, Louisville High School and Notre Dame High School.
According to CIF rules, every four years, all 580 member schools go through a process known as “releaguing,” in which coaches from each league and the CIF evaluate each school’s sports program to determine if any teams need to be switched to different leagues. While Marlborough was in the midst of this process last year, according to The Los Angeles Times, the creation of this new association was instigated when four private schools, St. Bonaventure, Oaks Christian, Damien and St. Lucy’s, filed three collective lawsuits against CIF Southern Section on June 20, 2013, in an effort to resist the CIF’s decision to place them into the Parochial Area, a sector that consists of mostly private Catholic schools.
Much to athletic directors’ and coaches’ surprise, the schools won their arbitration cases, allowing them to stay in their current CIF sports area.
Before the lawsuit, Ramona Convent decided to leave the Sunshine League and join one of the other eight leagues within the Los Angeles area that would provide them with an easier level of competition.
Following Ramona Convent’s decision to switch leagues, athletics representatives in the CIF Southern Section met to finalize the releaguing proposal. At the end of the meeting, there was a one-vote swing that left the Sunshine League unchanged except for the withdrawal of Ramona Convent, much to Athletic Director David Collicutt’s disappointment. By majority vote, the Sunshine League would be left with only four teams. Not only would these four schools, including Marlborough, have had fewer sports games, there would also be only two playoff spots available (instead of three),giving the teams in the Sunshine League a disadvantage against teams in other leagues.
However, when the lawsuit began, the teams in the Sunshine League were given the opportunity to revisit the releaguing process.
“The lawsuit was a blessing in disguise for us,” Collicutt said.
Prior to the lawsuit, the Mission League had also been searching for equity in its level of competition for its sports teams. As a result, after restarting the releaguing process following the lawsuit, the current Sunshine and Mission All-Girls leagues decided to merge their leagues to form an association for the 2014-2018 cycle.
The Mission League will include the five strongest teams for each sport, and the Sunshine League will include the remaining five teams for each sport. Which schools are represented in the Mission League or the Sunshine League will vary from sport to sport.
“I am sure there will be some challenges. It will be change, and sometimes people are wary of change, but I think this will be good for all of our programs. A challenge for stronger teams, relief for weaker programs, and for newer sports, a chance to become a part of the same association,” Collicutt explained.
Under the new association, the Marlborough water polo and golf teams will now be able to compete against the same schools that other Marlborough teams compete against, instead of being a part of the Ocean League and having to travel farther to compete.
Ally ’16 said she is excited about playing new schools and being a part of the association.
“I’m glad that we will be able to play the same schools as other sports at Marlborough. It will be fun to see familiar faces and play against friends that we have at these schools. It will also be nice to play schools that aren’t so far away,” Ally said.
According to Collicutt, after two years, both leagues will be shuffled. The top two teams from the Sunshine League will move up to the Mission League, and the bottom two teams from the Mission League will move down to the Sunshine League.
The goal of this shuffling is to provide a change to teams that were previously struggling to get to the playoffs and a chance for stronger teams to play tougher competition.
“I am excited. I am so happy that we got to where we are,” Collicutt said.