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Revival of Miami Valley League a nod to history, tradition

The 10 teams that had already announced their intent to leave the Greater Western Ohio Conference reached back into a storied past to form a new beginning with the revival of the Miami Valley League.The rebirth of the 10-team affiliation was announced on Friday by GWOC commissioner Eric Spahr, who also will oversee the newly formed MVL.

“There is a lot of history in the Miami Valley League and some rich traditions,” Spahr said during Friday’s GWOC track and field championships at Troy’s Memorial Stadium. “That contributed to bringing those schools back together. All 10 of them have had a relationship at some point over the last century.”

The MVL initially was established in 1926. Its rebirth will include charter members Greenville, Piqua, Sidney, Troy and Xenia. Also leaving the GWOC for the MVL are Butler, Fairborn, Stebbins, Tippecanoe and West Carrollton.

The GWOC will remain a two-conference, four-division, 20-team affiliation through the 2018-19 school year. The new MVL will be divided into the Miami Division (Butler, Greenville, Piqua, Tippecanoe and Troy) and the Valley Division (Fairborn, Sidney, Stebbins, West Carrollton and Xenia).

Remaining in the GWOC are current National East teams Beavercreek, Centerville, Fairmont, Springfield and Wayne and West teams Lebanon, Miamisburg, Northmont and Springboro. Trotwood-Madison also will stay in the GWOC.

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It has not been decided if the remaining 10 GWOC teams will be in two divisions.

Tradition, history, locales and the implementation of the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s competitive balance last fall all were cited by Spahr as contributing factors to the GWOC’s breakup. The mega-conference added Stebbins and Tippecanoe from the Central Buckeye Conference in the fall of 2017, making it the area’s largest affiliation ever.

However, that increasing membership also led to its downfall. All the schools that will form the new MVL have less students and smaller communities than the remaining big-school and metropolitan-area districts.

Crossover games, especially in football and to a lesser degree, boys and girls basketball, became a growing issue. The possibility of a GWOC split initially surfaced at the first of the year and became a reality in early February.

“It’s been some difficult times to work through the last few months,” Spahr said. “At the end of the day, both groups seem to be happy and moving on and like what their futures hold.”

The MVL had 16 members at various times through its initial long run and last functioned through 1974-75. MVL charter members Piqua, Sidney and Miamisburg left to join the now-defunct Miami Central Conference.

“Times change and evolve,” Piqua AD Chip Hare said. “Moving forward, we’ll now be able to have more of a competitive balance with like-size schools and like-size enrollments.”

The new MVL also secures the future of Piqua and Troy playing in football. That rivalry is among the oldest in the nation and had its start in 1899.

“That’s what everybody asks about,” Hare said. “It’ll be Week 10 every year continuously and we’ll look forward to that.”

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