Welcome to the VVAL.
That’s the Vine Valley Athletic League, the new home for Petaluma and Casa Grande high school athletics.
The new league, with Petaluma, Casa Grande, Sonoma Valley, Napa, Vintage, American Canyon and Justin-Siena, will debut as a member of the North Coast Section with the fall 2018-2019 season.
Casa Grande athletic director and former head football coach Rick O’Brien is serving as the new league’s first commissioner. Petaluma High School principal David Stirrat is the league president.
At the request of the Napa schools, the NCS Board of Managers voted unanimously to approve the new league last October.
O’Brien pointed out that the VVAL brings together schools that are currently in five different leagues. Petaluma and Sonoma Valley are in the Sonoma County League, Casa Grande is in the North Bay League, Napa and Vintage are in the Monticello Empire League, American Canyon is in the Solano County Athletic Conference and Justin-Siena is in the Marin County Athletic League.
O’Brien said it has been both interesting and productive working with representatives from schools coming from such divergent backgrounds.
“Everyone comes to the table with unique ideas,” he said. “We have tried to meld all the ideas into one league.”
Adding to the challenge was that the league’s directors were dealing with multiple sports. For example, one school would be coming from a league where golf matches consisted of one round of 18 holes, while another might play 9-hole matches twice a week. Tennis, soccer and other sports faced similar challenges.
VVAL officials were saved a great deal of work when they voted to use, as is, the North Bay League’s existing bylaws.
“Everyone agreed that the North Bay League had done a good job, and we should just adopt their bylaws,” O’Brien said.
The new league will continue to host post-season tournaments where appropriate for team sports.
There are still decisions to be made. Adding a sense of urgency making those decisions is is an early start to the 2018-2019 school year. Most schools open Aug. 15, meaning football practice can begin July 30.
“We still have a lot of work ahead, but we have an outstanding group of people working on it,” O’Brien said.
The league’s fall schedules are already in place. Each team will play six league games and each will have a bye during the league season. The league season will begin Sept. 14 with Napa at Sonoma Valley, Petaluma at Justin-Siena and American Canyon at Casa Grande.
The Egg Bowl will continue, but will now be a league-counting contest. It will be played Oct. 26 at Petaluma.
North Coast Section first round games are scheduled for Nov. 2 and Nov. 3.
The VVAL girls golf season starts Aug. 28; the volleyball season begins Sept. 4 and the girls tennis season starts Sept. 16.