MAGNOLIA – After three years without an affiliation in interscholastic athletics, St. Thomas More Academy will compete as a member of the Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference when high school sports get started next month. The Ravens become the eighth member of the ESIAC, and the second from Delaware.
St. Thomas More was a member of the Diamond State Athletic Conference until the conclusion of the 2014-15 academic year. Athletic director Tim Freud said the school had been looking to rejoin a conference, and the ESIAC was “a very natural turn.”
“We have been wanting to get back into a conference because of the automatic commitments conference opponents have to one another, which better facilitates scheduling, but furthermore, STMA was playing many ESIAC schools in many sports anyhow and it just seemed like a fluid changeover,” Freud said.
One of the conference members is Ss. Peter and Paul High School in Easton, Md., the only other Catholic school in the league. Ss. Peter and Paul athletic director Tyler Larkin said the Ravens are a great addition for the ESIAC.
“It will give the conference a boost in competition in all sports. The more the conference grows, the better it is for the student-athletes,” he said.
As Freud mentioned, scheduling played a role in St. Thomas More’s decision. The Ravens ran into difficulties putting a complete schedule together in a few sports last season, and their road games could involve significant travel. When they were members of the Diamond State, nearly all of their conference opponents were located in New Castle County. Freud added that all of the school’s varsity teams will play the maximum number of games this season.
The fact that six of their seven conference rivals are located in Maryland will not affect the Ravens’ postseason opportunities, Freud said. The key is the number of matches played.
“The DIAA only mandates that its member schools play other schools that play varsity schedules as outlined by the rules committees of each sport,” he said. “There is no DIAA requirement regarding number of matches played in state vs. out of state.”
In addition to Ss. Peter and Paul, the ESIAC consists of the Gunston School, the Salisbury School, Salisbury Christian, Worcester Prep, Holly Grove Christian and the only other Delaware member, Delmarva Christian. St. Thomas More and Delmarva Christian were rivals in the Diamond State as well.
The Ravens have played several of these schools in a variety of sports in the past. Larkin said Ss. Peter and Paul enjoys the rivalry with St. Thomas More because they share so much religiously, academically and athletically.
Freud said St. Thomas More is excited about the move. “The conference member schools strongly affirm our mission statement.”