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High school notebook: Leechburg granted release to District 6

| Wednesday, April 17, 2013, 10:06 p.m.

The Leechburg Area School District has crossed the first hurdle in its quest to move its athletic programs from the WPIAL to PIAA District 6.

The WPIAL Board of Control voted unanimously Wednesday to allow the school district to make the move, effective July 1, 2014.

Now, District 6 must accept Leechburg as a member, and the PIAA Board of Directors has the final say before the move becomes official.

Last month, the Leechburg Area school board voted 8-0 to request the move, citing the increasing number of private and parochial schools that are joining the WPIAL. Those schools have no boundaries to obtain students, unlike a public school district.

Leechburg would become a member of the Heritage Athletic Conference, consisting of nine small schools mostly in Westmoreland, Indiana and Cambria counties. There are no private or parochial schools in the Heritage Conference.

The WPIAL board, however, added one caveat: If Leechburg decides after a period of time as a District 6 member it wants to return to the WPIAL, the WPIAL board would consider bringing Leechburg back only if there are an odd number of teams. Such a move would prevent open dates for schools who need to scramble on their own to get an opponent for a given game night.

“You just can't come and go as you please,” WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley said.

O'Malley cited Farrell, a longtime athletic powerhouse that left the WPIAL in 2005 and joined PIAA District 10, which consists of schools in northwestern Pennsylvania. Farrell wanted to return to the WPIAL in 2010, but District 10 officials denied the move.

Leechburg, which joined the WPIAL in 1919, turned down two earlier invitations from the Heritage Conference.

Leechburg's football team hasn't had a winning season since 1991, and the girls basketball team has lost 25 consecutive games.

Leechburg officials also cited the Heritage Conference sponsoring competitive spirit and debate as reasons to move.

In addition to football and girls basketball, Leechburg sponsors teams in golf, boys basketball, girls volleyball, baseball and softball.

In other WPIAL board of control news:

• Board members will ask the PIAA for interpretation of the new heat acclimation rule beginning for the 2013 football season. The rule states players must have three days of workouts before starting full-fledged practices, but the WPIAL has concerns about possible rained out workouts, players who might come out late for camp and if this involves different age groups than just high school players.

• The WPIAL officers for the 2013-14 school year were elected: WPIAL president Jack Fullen, Blackhawk athletic director; WPIAL vice president Jon Vallina, Burgettstown athletic director; and treasurer Scott Seltzer, Chartiers Valley assistant superintendent. All three will also serve on the PIAA board of directors. North Hills athletic director Dan Cardone will step down as treasurer June 30.

• Board members also said they oppose a few PIAA measures: one that would allow co-ops from non-contiguous school districts; another that would allow only three days of hitting per week in football; and a third that would establish a mandated week off for athletes and coaches in the summer.

Hollidaysburg hires coach

Hollidaysburg school board hired Homer DeLattre as its football coach Wednesday night. DeLattre, who went 52-64 in 11 seasons as the head coach at Corry in District 10, replaces John Barton, who resigned after last season.

Recruiting

South Park senior Shelby Lindsay committed to play basketball at West Point Academy. A Tribune-Review Terrific 10 selection the past two years, she averaged nearly 18 points and led the Eagles to WPIAL and PIAA titles.

• Fox Chapel senior volleyball player Josh Tublin committed to Ohio State.

Bill Hartlep contributed. George Guido is a freelance writer.

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