Ever wonder what goes into picking the sites for the high school championships on a yearly basis? Ever wonder why one district is picked over another? Is it because they have field turf, or better lighting? Is the distance close enough for all the schools in Section VI to travel?
These are all questions that get answered annually by the hard working people at Section VI. Picking the right venues is a process and the people running the committees at Section VI do a fine job.
But, their job is no easy task. Trying to make everyone happy is not always going to happen. While a certain venue may be good for one group of schools, it might not work for another. This is the type of mindset the committee must have when determining where to have the yearly championship games.
“We have several committees,” stated Section VI Executive Director Timm Slade. “Ultimately, we try and find the best venues for our kids.”
Slade also must have a plan in place just in case the host team makes it to the finals. Last year, the Williamsville North High School softball team when on a run to the Sectional finals. The problem with that was the school was to host the finals.
Because it is unfair to other teams, Section VI does not allow the host team to conduct the finals if the home school in the title game. With the Spartans advancing all the way to the title game, Slade needed to make sure there was another venue that was able to go.
Earlier in the spring, Slade already had that conversation. He knew that Williamsville North was a very good program and that there was a great chance they would make to the finals. Instead of waiting the last day, or week, Slade was on the phone early securing a second venue.
Clarence, who has brand new field turf, was the perfect place to stage the finals. It wasn’t far for the teams that were playing, and it had state of the art facilities – with the upgrade of lighting and field turf.
“We do have a policy that the host school cannot host the finals if they are in it,” stated Slade. “We have run into that before in soccer, field hockey and softball. Last year, Williamsville North made the finals and we had to move the game to Clarence, which was the right thing to do.”
While most championship games are played at a high school venue, think of soccer, field hockey, baseball and softball, others are played at colleges and professional venues. The Section VI basketball finals are played at Buffalo State College every year, while Daemen College hosted the volleyball finals this year.
The Section VI Western New York Varsity Hockey Federation plays in championships at KeyBank Center, while the football title games are played at the home of the Buffalo Bills – New Era Field. While it is very expensive to put on, it’s worth it to see the looks on the kid’s faces.
Everyone who makes it to that level deserves to have a shot to play in a professional setting. Not many kids will move on to play college or pro ball, but they can say they had to the opportunity to skate on the same ice as the Buffalo Sabres’ Jack Eichel or play on the same field as the Buffalo Bills’ Shady McCoy.
“It’s the highlight of their high school career,” stated Slade. “Football we need to be at New Era Field. It means a lot to those kids and the schools.”
So, the next time you are at a game watching your favorite team go for a title, remember how much work went into securing the venue for your team to celebrate after winning the title.