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The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

Freeway League faces disbandment after 40 years

Defensive+specialist+freshman+Isabelle+Kim+serves+the+ball+on+Wednesday%2C+Oct.+11%2C+at+the+Troy+High+School+gym+in+a+match+against+Troy.+Sunny+Hills+and+Troy+will+not+compete+in+the+same+league+for+the+2024-2025+season..%0A
Nicole Park
Defensive specialist freshman Isabelle Kim serves the ball on Wednesday, Oct. 11, at the Troy High School gym in a match against Troy. Sunny Hills and Troy will not compete in the same league for the 2024-2025 season..

Goodbye Buena Park High School and Fullerton High School.

A one-and-a-half-year-long decision broke a tradition of four decades: the Freeway League.

On Tuesday, Jan. 30, 77 schools participated in an official vote to disband the current Freeway League and reorganize it into the Century Conference for all sports teams in the 2024-2025 school year.

The Sunny Hills football team will play in the Lambda League, one of the separate divisions solely for football within the Century Conference.

“Unfortunately, it’s kind of historic for all the league championships that we win because it’s the last time we will have the official Freeway League with just the Fullerton Joint Union High School District schools,” athletic director Paul Jones said.

Beginning next school year, Sunny Hills will join as a competitor in the Century Conference along with 14 other high schools: Sonora in La Habra, Troy in Fullerton, La Habra, Villa Park, Canyon in Anaheim, Esperanza in Anaheim, Yorba Linda, Foothill in Tustin, Crean Lutheran in Irvine, Cypress, Pacifica in Garden Grove, Brea Olinda in Brea, El Dorado in Placentia and El Modena in Orange. 

Buena Park and Fullerton will now be a part of the Golden Empire Conference along with Calvery Chapel in Santa Ana, Costa Mesa, Garden Grove, Godinez in Santa Ana, Katella in Anaheim, Kennedy in La Palma, Laguna Hills, Ocean View in Huntington Beach, Santa Ana, Segerstrom in Santa Ana, Tustin, Valencia in Placentia and Westminster.

Teams in the Century Conference will be placed in each of the three leagues based on the CIF power rankings from the last season to ensure a similar skill level among competitors. Within the Century Conference, the Century League will consist of the highest-ranked sports from the previous season, followed by the Freeway League and finally the North Hills League.

“Usually blowout wins aren’t as fun, so I feel like playing more difficult teams makes the game better,” boys basketball guard junior Raeden Bobadilla said.

Since several winter sports and all of the spring sports are still in season, the sorting of each sport into a particular league is yet to be determined.

“Since we are playing a lot of schools from outside our area, it is going to be a little harder to read their defense and offense,” said sophomore Dante Gelles, a field player on the boys water polo team. 

Since traveling distances will vary based on the schools that each sport at Sunny Hills is set to compete against for the new school year, student-athletes will have to miss a greater amount of class time — much more than they already do. 

Hypothetically, if Sunny Hills competes against Crean Lutheran, the farthest school in the Century Conference, the traveling distance between the two schools comes to about 24 miles, while all of the original Freeway League schools came within a five-mile radius.

“The schools in our league before [the disbandment] were very close, so we didn’t have to skip many periods,” girls volleyball outside hitter sophomore Kayla Thienprasiddhi said. “Now we may have to leave school earlier for games and miss a lot of classes.”

Since the new schools are further away, the district will have to supply Sunny Hills with charter buses for sports with high enrollment, almost doubling the budget of transportation costs for each school, Jones said. The meeting to discuss the transportation fees was held on Tuesday, Feb. 27.

“Typically, the district allocates some money to us for transportation,” the athletic director said. “The great minds at the district are going to figure it out and make sure that our students have transportation.”

Jones said since students are not required to pay an enrollment fee to participate in a sport, the money will be raised through funding from the district and entry fees from spectators at the sports events. Unfortunately, since the schools are now farther in proximity, Jones said he thinks spectatorship may also face a sudden decline.

Nevertheless, Jones said this new conference is here to stay, with the district still navigating the intricacies of the releaguing process. 

“Will we ever have the opportunity to get the Freeway League back?” Jones said. “Probably not — this is the kind of thing that once it happens, it happens.”

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Aashna Dialani
Aashna Dialani, Assistant Business Manager
Sophomore Aashna Dialani spent her freshman year in the Journalism 1 class and looks forward to starting the new school year as the assistant business manager of The Accolade. Aside from being a part of the award-winning staff, Dialani is also a part of the swim team. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and watching Bollywood movies with her parents.
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