El Molino volleyball team

Defending champs – The El Molino volleyball team, pictured here last year, has been highly competitive in the North Bay League since realignment, capturing the 2019 Redwood Division championship. Photo provided

New system a strong proponent of competitive equity

The most comprehensive league realignment in North Bay League (NBL) history has done everything it was intended to do, or so says a consensus of school coaches and administrators.

The new system, implemented in 2018, merged former NBL schools with the Sonoma County League, forming a combined league with two divisions. The configuration features a highly competitive Oak Division, and less competitive Redwood Division.   

The NBL includes Windsor, Analy, El Molino, Cardinal Newman, Elsie Allen, Healdsburg, Maria Carrillo, Montgomery, Piner, Rancho Cotate, Santa Rosa and Ukiah. St. Vincent of Petaluma was added to the fray this year, with all of its teams being placed in the Redwood Division.

League officials and school athletic directors met during the summer to reevaluate each sport, moving teams across divisions as needed. Following the first two years of implementation, only a few teams changed divisions.

Analy, arguably the most dominant school in the former SCL, has had most of its teams placed in the tough Oak Division for the past two years. The Tigers have only two teams changing divisions this school year, with the football and girls golf teams moving over to the Redwood Division.   

“Overall I’m happy with our alignments,” Analy Director of Athletics Joe Ellwood said. “When we make the decisions to place out teams in divisions every other year, we have to not only take into consideration what’s good for the Tigers but what’s best for our league as a whole, maintaining general competitive equity within the NBL.”  

One of the smallest schools in the NBL, El Molino is on the other side of the equation with all but one of its sports teams occupying the NBL Redwood Division. Lions teams have flourished in the new league, capturing a Redwood Division girls volleyball championship, while many of its teams have gone on to land playoff berths. None of El Molino’s teams have changed divisions this year.

“Overall, I'm happy with how it has worked out for us,” El Mo Athletic Director Mike Roan reported. “It’s given us the opportunity to be more competitive within the division in our league.  Our teams go in feeling they have a chance to compete for a championship, which has not always been the case.”

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