GRAND BLANC – The Saginaw Valley League has undergone a complete makeover in the last several years and the changes continue to come. After Grand Blanc was voted out of the Kensington Lakes Activities Association due to their high enrollment and geographical inconvenience, the Bobcats applied to the SVL, and on Monday, May 8, the league approved their entry.
“The Saginaw Valley League has voted in Grand Blanc High School as a member of the SVL for the 2018-19 school year,” said SVL commissioner and Saginaw Heritage athletic director Pete Ryan. “This is the second school added in the past year. Bay City John Glenn was added for the 2017-18 school year in November 2016.”
Grand Blanc will add another school to the southern portion of the Valley, while also surpassing Lapeer as the largest school in the league. Lapeer’s enrollment was often feared when they entered the SVL, currently sitting at 1,837, but Grand Blanc, which will still remain in the KLAA for one more school year, has an enrollment of 2,660.
Geographically, the move is ideal for Grand Blanc. In the KLAA, there were no short drives for conference games, but in the Valley, they’ll get their share of local rivalries. The change reignites former Big Nine rivalries with Davison, Carman- Ainsworth and Flint Powers Catholic and also creates new local rivalries with Lapeer and newly-rebranded Flint.
The rest of the conference includes Bay City Central, Bay City Western, Midland, Midland Dow, Mt. Pleasant, Saginaw, Saginaw Arthur Hill, Saginaw Heritage, and beginning in 2017-18, Bay City John Glenn.
The move is just the latest of the massive transformation that has happened in the SVL in recent years. In 2002, Flint Northwestern left the league due to declining enrollment and lack of competitive balance and Mt. Pleasant joined in time for the 2005-06 school year. The league remained the same until 2009, when Flint Central was closed.
As the former Big Nine Conference began to fall apart, the final four members, Davison, Carman-Ainsworth, Flint Powers Catholic and Flushing, all joined the Valley together in 2012-13. Flint Northwestern, after its enrollment stabilized following the closure of Flint Central, was also admitted back into the league at the same time as the former Big Nine schools.
Flint Northern would close in 2013 and Flushing would move over to the Flint Metro League in 2014. At the same time, Lapeer East and West would merge into one school and join the SVL in time for the 2014-15 season.
This past November, the SVL admitted Bay City John Glenn for next season, and most recently, the Flint Community Schools announced a merger of Flint Northwestern and Southwestern into Flint High School. Their colors will be teal and black but a mascot is yet to be determined.
The addition of Grand Blanc will make the SVL very unique. Most conferences are concerned with enrollment numbers being on par with one another, however, the Bobcats have exactly 2,000 students more than Flint Powers and 2,079 more than Saginaw. Four of the 15 schools are below 1,000 students, while the rest, aside from Grand Blanc, range between 1,000 and 1,800.