Oxford High School athletic teams could be playing opponents such as Naugatuck, Derby and Seymour next year rather than the likes of Pomperaug, Newtown and Brookfield.
That’s because the Oxford Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to accept a committee’s recommendation that OHS apply for acceptance into the Naugatuck Valley League. Currently, Oxford plays in the South-West Conference.
A driving force behind the move, according to supporters, is that Oxford is a small school and will have an opportunity to compete against more similar-sized schools in the NVL. The SWC has several large schools and thus more student-athletes, school board members said.
“Moving to the NVL from the SWC is not going to mean that Oxford student-athletes aren’t going to have some really long days,” said school board member Gerard Carbonaro, who spearheaded a discussion about the move.
“I’ll be proud of our kids if they compete favorably in that league,” he said. “But I know as adults, I think it’s our job and our responsibility to put these kids in the best position to succeed. The fact that the NVL has eight schools that have populations within 300 students of Oxford - and the SWC only has four - makes a big difference.”
The move is not a done deal. The NVL still has to accept Oxford. If accepted, Oxford teams whose sport is not offered in the NVL, such as boys’ volleyball, would continue to play in the SWC. Board members say the move would have no negative impact on current sports teams.
The high school has been competing in the SWC since opening to students in 2007. Board Chairwoman Paula Guillet said that the move to the NVL is a good not only because of the chance to play smaller schools, but also because NVL schools are closer, thus cutting down on commute times and travel expenses. And she said people in Oxford, many of whom attended Seymour High School before Oxford had a school, want to see league competition between Seymour and Oxford.
Committee member Dave Yish, a former selectman, said he anticipates better attendance at games that are closer.
“It should help with pride and morale for our students,” he said.
And committee member Bill Hovan said many parents have expressed concerns about not being able to attend games that are too far away.