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Lancaster Country Day Cougars

Welcome to the Lancaster-Lebanon League, Lancaster Country Day.

The league’s athletic directors on Thursday voted unanimously to welcome Country Day into the L-L as the league’s 26th full-time member, starting in the 2018-19 school year.

Country Day had twice applied to join the L-L League in the past, but was denied both times.

The third time was the charm.

“It’s exciting and it’s invigorating,” Country Day athletic director Austen Hannis said. “It’s also a bit of a relief because we tried twice before and it didn’t work out, for whatever reasons. But to know moving forward that we get to develop relationships with the local schools around us is great, and this will really make a big impact with our student-athletes.”

The official vote was 23-0; two athletic directors were not present when the roll call was taken. Country Day will finish up this season and the following school year competing in the Tri-Valley League, and the Cougars will join Octorara in the L-L in the fall of 2018.

“This really shows the support of my colleagues here, their schools, and the league as a whole trying to develop relationships across the board,” Hannis said. “This really does open the door of possibilities. And I hope we’re not the last. I hope the ball continues to roll.”

The L-L has been in contact with Lancaster County Christian, Linden Hall and Mount Calvary Christian about the possibility of joining the league at the start of the 2020-21 school year.

“I’m happy that there are some more smaller schools in the county who might also look to come in,” L-L League executive president Dick Balderston said. “I think one of the reasons this vote was unanimous was because the smaller schools are suffering, and hopefully some smaller schools can now benefit from this. I also like that our bigger schools — the Hempfields and the Manheim Townships — are thinking about our league as a whole, and not just for themselves.”

Octorara, which will play another year and a half in the Ches-Mont League before heading to the L-L, gained approval in October.

READ: L-L League begins work to absorb Octorara athletics

Country Day participates in boys’ and girls’ soccer, field hockey, boys’ and girls’ tennis, boys’ and girls’ golf, boys’ and girls’ basketball and boys’ and girls’ lacrosse. The Cougars also have co-op agreements with Lancaster Catholic and McCaskey.

Country Day is a PIAA Class 1A program, with a female enrollment of 91 students.

“This is going to be a positive change for us,” Hannis said. “We’re really, really happy about it. Now we’ll be able to be with people who we’re around more closely, which is really exciting. We’ve been so, so grateful to be in the Tri-Valley League. They’ve been unbelievable partners and they’ve been so fantastic to us. But this was something that when it became a possibility, we definitely had to think about it and look at it.”

Thursday, the L-L League acted on it. And Lancaster Country Day is in. Unanimously.

BIG CHANGES COMING IN L-L BASKETBALL: The league also voted unanimously on Thursday to accept the realignment packages for section setups in the next two-year cycle across the board. While most of the sports remained the same — aligned by enrollment in two, three or four sections — the biggest switch will come in basketball.

League hoops chairman Zac Kraft, Conestoga Valley’s AD, proposed a five-section format, with six teams in Section Five and five teams in the other sections. The Section One and Section Two teams will play crossover games, and the Section Three and Section Four teams will play crossovers games, but the Section Five teams will not play crossover games.

In that format, Octorara slots in Section Four and Country Day will be in Section Five.

After much discussion, the five-section setup passed by a 17-9 vote.

Section One: McCaskey, Hempfield, Manheim Township, Penn Manor, Cedar Crest; Section Two: Lebanon, Conestoga Valley, Warwick, Ephrata, Elizabethtown; Section Three: Solanco, Garden Spot, Lampeter-Strasburg, Cocalico, Manheim Central; Section Four: Donegal, Octorara, Elco, Northern Lebanon, Lancaster Catholic; Section Five: Pequea Valley, Annville-Cleona; Columbia, Lancaster Mennonite, Lebanon Catholic, Lancaster Country Day.

There were no changes in football, although the league is expecting Ephrata and Lebanon —  a pair of struggling programs — to use the Hornberger Amendment, and a newly established appeal process, to try and drop to Section Three.

Schools have one week from Thursday to petition the league via the Hornberger Amendment to switch sections. Teams must find a corresponding school to switch with should they look to make the jump. The L-L added an appeal process to the Hornberger Amendment; if a school can’t find a trading partner, they can appeal to that sport’s chairperson, who will have the authority to tweak any section alignments before a final vote.

NEW PREZ: Lancaster Catholic’s Rich Hinnenkamp was voted as the league’s next athletic director association president, replacing Annville-Cleona’s Tommy Long, who is stepping down from that post. McCaskey’s Jon Mitchell remained the vice president, while Lampeter-Strasburg’s Branden Lippy will resume her position as the league’s secretary. 

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