NLL expansion may offer Clay another opportunity

Press Sports Staff

After a decade of peace and quiet on the league front, the pot is getting stirred again, and this time it is the Northern Lakes League doing the stirring.

This might be an opportunity for Clay, which for years has been seeking an opportunity to join the NLL.

The NLL is seeking to expand to a possible 16 teams, and Oregon City Schools Superintendent Hal Gregory has confirmed that Clay is interested. Gregory said Clay submitted a formal letter of interest earlier last week.

In the summer of 2009, Rossford left the NLL for the newly formed Northern Buckeye Conference, and the NLL considered Napoleon and Clay for its replacement. Eventually, Napoleon was chosen and began play in the NLL in 2011, while Clay became part of the formation of the Three Rivers Athletic Conference.

A letter sent out to schools across the region via Twitter says that the NLL is looking to expand to two divisions with “ideally” eight schools in each division. A school’s division would be based on its overall student population over a four-year period.

“Our goal is to maintain the history and reputation of our league while creating a stronger and more stable league for several years to come,” states the NLL press release.

The NLL started as the Great Northern Conference, created in 1945 to “encourage and promote clean and wholesome inter-school activities.” Clay was a part of the early years of the GNC, which eventually split into the NLL and Great Lakes League.

“Since then, the NLL has evolved from the early days of the GNC to become one of the mostly stable and highly respected athletic leagues in Northwest Ohio. The NLL comprises seven school districts that are home to eight proud public high schools,” the release says.

“As times have changed school districts and their student populations have also changed amongst the current eight members of the NLL. While the respect and admiration among the current NLL schools is very much alive, we understand that the challenges we face in our league may also be the same challenges that other leagues in Northwest Ohio are facing. The NLL strives to provide outstanding interscholastic competition to its public schools members,” the release continues.

“Recently there has been a lot of discussion and speculation of schools in Northwest Ohio considering league realignments. The NLL is also currently having these types of discussions to preserve our rich history and continue our league’s success well into the future.”

For Clay, it is not just about championships, it could be more about demographics. While Clay has struggled in the money sports, like basketball and football, to win titles in the TRAC, the Oregon high school has done well in sports like wrestling, volleyball, softball, baseball, and soccer. Clay has won nine out of 10 championships in wrestling. 

However, in the TRAC the public schools are much larger than Clay and the private schools are closer to the same size but accept enrollment from a much larger geographic region. Six of eight current NLL schools are in suburban Toledo, much like Clay. The NLL’s letter is also directed at schools in other leagues throughout Northwest Ohio, including the Northern Buckeye Conference and Northwest Ohio Athletic League.

The NLL says any schools interested in discussing this vision should contact NLL Commissioner Richard Browne at


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