Shaker Heights High School switching athletic conferences after dealing with multiple instances of “racial slurs”

Shaker Heights High School switching athletic conferences after dealing with multiple instances of “racial slurs”
Shaker Heights High School

SHAKER HEIGHTS, OH (WOIO) - The Shaker Heights Board of Education unanimously approved to move out of the Greater Cleveland Conference (GCC) to rejoin the Lake Erie League (LEL).

Shaker Heights was with the LEL for 90 years prior to the conference switch.

The conference move would begin with the 2020-2021 school year, according to the board.

The Shaker Heights Board of Education says it will accept the LEL’s invitation pending an impact review in January 2020 of a series of benchmarks such as scheduling, transportation, and costs.

According to the board, Shaker Heights High School Athletic Director Don Readance recommended the change in leagues after being informed and supported by the Shaker Heights coaches “to change the sports experience for our students.”

The statement from the board regarding the conference change said:

The purpose of this change is to improve overall athletic competitiveness, reduce travel costs, and better support the socio-emotional development of our students. The change allows some sports greater flexibility to schedule out-of-conference games while other sports are not impacted at all. For example, the change will improve:

  • Sports Conference Leadership: The influx of new leadership in the Lake Erie League (LEL) over the past few years has resulted in a much higher level of professionalism and cohesion for the league. The league is in a much healthier and stable state than it was in 2012. The potential addition of Shaker Heights and Garfield Heights would further strengthen the league.  
  • Geography/Travel: A major drawback of remaining in the GCC is travel time. Schools in the conference are located in four different counties, meaning that student-athletes find themselves returning home at late as 10:30 p.m. on a school night. With seven of the eight potential LEL schools located in Cuyahoga County, travel time would be drastically reduced. Travel costs, especially the need for contracting with independent bus services, would also be reduced.
  • Diversity/Cultural Sensitivity Issues: Our student-athletes have had to deal with multiple instances where they have been the subject of racial slurs on the athletic playing fields. While our student-athletes have dealt with each of these incidents in a remarkably poised way, it is something that must be given serious consideration when making a decision about conference affiliation. The lack of diversity and cultural sensitivity in some of the communities in the GCC is a real concern.   

The Shaker Heights Red Raiders share the GCC with:

  • Brunswick
  • Elyria
  • Euclid
  • Medina
  • Mentor
  • Solon
  • Strongsville

The Shaker Heights School Board also released a list of the sports that are, and are not, affected by the conference change.

The sports that are impacted are:

  • Baseball
  • Basketball - Boys & Girls
  • Cross Country - Boys & Girls 
  • Football
  • Golf - Boys & Girls
  • Lacrosse - Boys & Girls
  • Soccer - Boys & Girls
  • Softball
  • Swimming - Boys & Girls
  • Tennis - Boys & Girls
  • Track - Boys & Girls
  • Volleyball
  • Wrestling

The few sports that remain unaffected by the conference change are:

  • Field Hockey
  • Ice Hockey
  • Club Sports

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