The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Sports

May 20, 2007

New athletic league becomes reality

25 schools to join Pa. Heartland in 2008

It's official: The Pennsylvania Heartland Athletic Conference is coming. The new league, which is comprised of 25 schools from seven counties in central Pennsylvania, begins play in every sport in the 2008-09 academic year.

Plans for the PHAC began in 2005, and the league officially became a reality at a meeting of the school's superintendents, principals and athletic directors on May 8. The member schools are: Benton, Bloomsburg, Central Columbia, Danville, Hughesville, Jersey Shore, Lewisburg, Loyalsock, Midd-West, Mifflinburg, Millville, Milton, Montgomery, Montoursville, Mount Carmel, Muncy, St. John Neumann, Selinsgrove, Shamokin, Shikellamy, South Williamsport, Southern Columbia, Sullivan County, Warrior Run and Williamsport.

"I'm extremely excited," said Lewisburg athletic director John Vaji, who chaired the organizing committee. "It's going to open up some avenues for schools to pick up some new nonleague games ... and still keep long-standing rivalries. It's just win-win for all the schools involved."

According to league bylaws, schools must be a member of the league in any sport that competes in PIAA Class AAA, Class AA or Class A. Currently, Williamsport competes in Class AAAA in five sports: football, girls basketball, boys basketball, softball and baseball. The Millionaires will be PHAC members in everything else.

The creation of the PHAC effectively means that there are now just two leagues in District 4 -- the PHAC and the Northern Tier League -- with a few exceptions. Locally, Lourdes Regional, East Juniata and Line Mountain are not members. Lourdes competes in the Schuylkill League and All-America Conference, East Juniata participates in the Tri-Valley League and All-America Conference, and Line Mountain plays in various leagues depending on the sport.

Currently, Line Mountain is a member of the Susquehanna Valley League for field hockey and softball. But with the dissolution of the SVL due to the creation of the PHAC, the Eagles will need to find a new home in those sports.

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