Incline soccer coach Tom Canino submits relegation system proposal to NIAA |

Incline soccer coach Tom Canino submits relegation system proposal to NIAA

Steve Puterski
Incline's Sami Lampe (13) and Vanessa Andrade (6) and North Tahoe's Emma DesLauriers (18) compete in the Division III regional semifinal this past fall. Incline girls coach Tom Canino submitted a proposal to the NIAA to create a relegation system such as the ones used in professional European leagues.
File photo |

A long-standing sore spot for Northern Nevada has been the overall competition of soccer in the current three leagues.

Each league is packed with its powerhouses, competitive and non-competitive clubs. It’s the non-competitive teams, along with travel expenses, that sparked action by Incline girls coach Tom Canino.

After years of straw polling and watching realignment, Canino submitted a proposal to the NIAA to upgrade the sport.

Canino, who has coached at Galena, Truckee, North Tahoe and Incline high schools, wants to create a relegation system such as the ones used in professional European leagues.

The proposal will be a discussion item as a sub-topic with the general realignment talks during the NIAA’s Board of Control meeting in April. If successful, the idea would become an action item at the June meeting.

“I don’t know if there has ever been real satisfaction with the way things have been run,” Canino said. “There are a lot of coaches that are open to it. The good teams need to see the other good teams.”

One of Canino’s biggest selling points is travel expense. Travel, whether in legitimate cases or not, is a tool traditionally used by Washoe and Clark counties during any realignment discussions.

In addition, Elko County schools must drive farther than any other district, although Canino said this could ease the burden and expense with less distance to travel.

As an example, Incline drove eight hours to West Wendover only to have the game called after the score reached 8-0 with 28 minutes remaining in the match. There is no mercy rule, but that is a different story in its own right.

West Wendover then drove to Incline for another blowout, which Canino said could be prevented if teams only have to travel for half of their schedule.

“They don’t need to travel to have a game like that,” he said. “It’s totally unnecessary. You play the games with the teams you are most like.”

Canino’s idea would create two divisions and remove the DIII. So, those DIII schools would be absorbed by the DI-A to create a 14-team league, while the DI would consist of 15 schools.

The schedule would call for one match against each team in the division, limiting travel, Canino said. Also, a midseason tournament would be constructed to allow for crossover games and a full slate of games.

“It seems to me that if you do it by competitive balance it’s just going to be better for everybody,” Canino said.

Using a rubric, such as Southern Nevada uses for its entire realignment process, Northern Nevada would combine the point totals of each school’s boys and girls programs.

The top two teams from the DI-A would move up and the bottom two DI schools would move down; however, Canino said his proposal allows the “option of choice” for one of the top two schools in the DI-A to remain where they are in case one program is not suited to move up.

If exercised, the option to move up would fall to the third-place team in the DI-A, although the NIAA could alter that portion of the proposal.

“It’s different for Elko, Spring Creek, Battle Mountain and West Wendover because they have to travel no matter what,” Canino said. “But you are cutting into an eight-hour trip.”

Donnie Nelson, assistant director of the NIAA, said the new format would commence in fall 2016.

Overall, the DIII is a weak league, although schools such as Incline, North Tahoe and Whittell have shown they can compete and beat their DI-A counterparts.

When the NIAA moved to the pod system several years ago, DIII and DI-A schools were pitted against each other during league play, which saw the aforementioned schools beating numerous playoff-bound DI-A teams.

“We were perfectly competitive with the I-A group when we were grouped with them,” Canino said. “It’s more cost effective for everybody.”

Should the Incline coach’s proposal pass, Sparks and Truckee would move to the DI on the boys side, while South Tahoe and Truckee would be the girls representatives, he added.

“The whole cost thing is the one I push the most,” Canino said. “It’s not just expensive for the school but the kids. You have to buy their meals and their time out of class and those are big issues, frankly.”

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