Turlock’s two high schools have called the Central California Conference the home of their athletic league play for quite some time, with Turlock High School serving as one of its founding members and Pitman High School finishing up its 13th season within the conference. Now, thanks to a realignment of the Sac-Joaquin Section, the Bulldogs and the Pride are set to join the Modesto Metro Conference come August 2018.
According to THS Athletic Director Mike Brown, the section realignment takes place about every four years. The section’s California Interscholastic Federation selects a committee to go over various proposals of the realignment, which takes into consideration the size of each school and how they competed in each of their leagues, respectively.
“They look at if the leagues are working or not, and it keeps the league balanced,” said Brown. “Right now in Merced’s school district, their schools are smaller than Pitman and Turlock and so that’s making it harder for them to compete.”
The proposed realignment calls for THS and PHS to become part of the MMC, joining Modesto High School, Downey High School, Enochs High School and Gregori High School for league play. Central Valley High School and Patterson High School would take the two Turlock schools’ spots in the CCC, while Beyer High School, Grace Davis High School and Johansen High School would leave the MMC and join the Western Athletic Conference.
Both THS and PHS have about 2,100 students enrolled at each of their campuses, said Brown, giving the schools large pools to choose from when it comes to the athletes on their sports teams. While the two schools will be leaving behind some smaller schools in their former league, joining the MMC means that the Bulldogs and Pride will be going up against some stiff competition, including Modesto High’s campus of 2,700 and Enochs, which has around 2,400 students.
“It will give us some good competition,” said Brown. “I loved being up in Modesto. They’re good competitors and it should be fun.”
THS was a founding member of the CCC, along with Modesto High, when the league was chartered in 1957. PHS Athletic Director Dave Walls recalled the days when he coached basketball at THS and competed against Modesto teams in league play, and is eager to face them once more – this time, as part of the Pride.
“I’ve been around long enough that I was coaching basketball for Turlock when we were all the original CCC. We were playing Modesto schools all the time, so to go back isn’t that big of a deal,” said Walls. “It kind of makes sense, and I’ve always anticipated that when they realigned we were going to end up being put back together.”
Both Walls and Brown added that coaches and players at both schools are accepting the move with grace, and even look forward to the new competition.
“They’re going to be ready to play whatever league it is,” said Walls. “We’re going to have to play hard, but the good part is we won’t have to drive as far.”
While the switch up hasn’t caused much of a stir, it is the name of the proposed new league that has produced grumblings among stakeholders at both schools. It is the hope of THS and PHS that they will not only move their teams into a league centralized a bit farther north, but also bring the CCC name with them.
“People who are either lifelong Bulldog fans or Pride fans and have been here a long time, I think the one thing they’re all concerned with is what the name of the league is going to be more than anything else,” said Walls. “There’s that history of the league, especially for kids who go to THS and their granddad, dad played in the CCC.”
Walls believes that, seeing as both THS and Modesto High are founding members of the league, the CCC should follow the Bulldogs to their new league. PHS is part of that history too, he added, since teachers, coaches and many involved with the current Pride were once Bulldogs themselves.
Brown, who was involved in THS athletics when the original CCC was split up, said that Modesto High and THS flipped a coin to determine who would take the CCC name with them. THS won the toss.
“The CIF doesn’t care what we call it,” said Brown. “But, coaches are wondering why they can’t take the CCC name with them since they’ve been there the longest, and Modesto wants to keep it the MMC, but that doesn’t work too well with Turlock and Pitman because we’re not Modesto.”
“I think that it’s very understandable that when they were all seven Modesto schools they were the MMC, but now that it’s going to be two town involved, if anything, it should be the CCC or have something that represents Turlock as well,” said Walls.
A final proposal for the Sac-Joaquin Section realignment will be voted on by the principals of each involved school this month, which requires a simple majority approval. According to both Walls and Brown, the votes typically pass the proposal, making the transfer of Turlock’s two high schools to the MMC all but a done deal. The realignment will officially begin in August 2018.