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Nevada schools try to boot Truckee from NIAA

JAMES BALL, Sierra Sun

If several Nevada high schools have their way, Truckee could be kicked out of the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association as early as next year.

But a recent vote, spearheaded by Lyon County high schools Fernley and Dayton, fell flat on its face last week, failing to garner the necessary two-thirds approval to boot Truckee from the NIAA.

“A number of Nevada schools feel it is extremely unfair for California kids to win their state championships,” said Tahoe-Truckee High School principal Dennis LeBlanc. “Every so often, we go through this. It’s not a new thing.”

LeBlanc hinted that the recent actions stem from Truckee’s winning streak in several sports over the past few years, including basketball, girls’ golf, football and soccer.

“Show some integrity,” LeBlanc said. “Wait until we start losing a lot; then kick us out.”

Apparently, the Lyon County superintendent began a letter campaign to rid the NIAA of Truckee and North Tahoe, sending out ballots to all the schools in 3A.

Truckee is in the 3A league (18 schools), Division 1 (six schools).

The letter asked a single question: whether Truckee and North Tahoe should be allowed to continue as members of the NIAA.

According to LeBlanc, Truckee, North Tahoe, Battle Mountain and Rite of Passage each voted to keep NT and TTHS in the league.

Voting against were Fernley and Spring Creek.

A two-thirds “yes” vote in both the division and the league are necessary to proceed with excluding the California schools, but two-thirds voted to keep Truckee and North Tahoe.

Within the league, 13 of 18 schools voted with five abstaining because they were undecided. Of the 13, eight schools supported Truckee and North Tahoe.

Incline, Dayton, Yerington and Virgin Valley voted to kick them out.

“That was a surprise,” LeBlanc said of the Incline vote.

Essentially the issue is dead if NIAA rules are followed.

“The problem becomes, because we’re from California, we can’t even blow our nose right. Things we do are taken the wrong way and blown out of proportion.”

David Hart, athletic director and football coach at Fernley High School said, “the bottom line is, do California schools deserve to win Nevada championships? I mean we can’t go join the CIF and play over there.”

Truckee is less than five miles from the Nevada border, while Fernley is nearly 40 miles from the closest California border.

All about winning

Hart made no bones about the fact this comes down to Truckee and North Tahoe’s domination within the league.

“Hell yeah, it’s about winning,” Hart said.

Still, now that the issue is dying away, Hart welcomes the rivalry brought by the California schools.

“I have no personal problem with it. TTHS and North Tahoe are great rivals for Fernley,” he said. “We had one of the greatest football games I’ve ever seen against North Tahoe several weeks ago. I enjoy playing them.”

But even though Truckee’s position seems secure for at least another year, LeBlanc said Wolverine fans often deserve some of the blame for bringing on the situation.

“We are still guilty and we need to clean up our act,” LeBlanc said.

He cited parents and spectators spitting on opposing team’s players, mouthing off to referees and saying bad things to the fans of other teams as prime examples.

“Parents say a lot of inappropriate things and that’s not acceptable,” he said. “That’s poor sportsmanship on our part.”

State championship statistics

As noted, Truckee has come under fire in a particularly successful year for its sports teams.

“Obviously we’re at our peak athletically and winning everything,” LeBlanc said.

But it might surprise some to know that of 255 possible state championships in the years Truckee and North Tahoe have been in the league, 82 percent of the titles have gone to Nevada schools, while only 18 percent were split between TTHS and NT.

Twenty of the championships went to the Laker cross-country team, which has dominated not only the division, but the league, nearly every year since joining the NIAA.

Truckee and North Tahoe split into two separate schools in 1976 and were invited to join the NIAA 17 years ago.

See related column in the sports section (page 3C) for opinions from Truckee coaches and Truckee’s options outside of the NIAA.

Sierra Sun E-mail: sun@tahoe.com

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