CADIZ - The Buckeye 8 has a new leader.
Harrison Central High School principal Brent Ripley was unanimously voted as the next president of the Buckeye 8 Athletic League, taking over officially at the start of the upcoming school year.
Ripley takes over the reins of the league from Steve Cowser, who stepped down after completing his two-year term as the president.
"I think, more than anything else, the league is all a team atmosphere," Ripley said. "It's not about me running the league. It's about everyone working together to do what's best for the league and the kids."
Ripley - a 1990 Lakeland High School and 1994 West Liberty State College graduate - had previously served the league as the vice president.
"I am honored to serve in this capacity and I wasn't going to turn away a chance to learn more," Ripley said.
The Buckeye 8 went through some murky waters over the course of the last few years.
Bellaire and Union Local had both decided to withdraw from the league, travel, scheduling and even competitiveness as some of their chief reasons.
However, at a meeting in the fall, the league made a decision to break into a North and South division, which begins in the upcoming school year for all sports, except for football.
With the travel concerns eased and scheduling reins loosened, both Bellaire and Union Local decided to remain with the league. The league also approved the addition of Beaver Local and East Liverpool, raising the total to 10 teams.
"I think we had solid leadership and it did a great job of reaching out to the schools and getting input," Ripley said. "The expansion of the league is a good thing. We're pretty established as a league."
Ripley pointed out that it was Martins Ferry principal Jeff Oberdick and Athletic Director Kim Appolloni, who were chief people in coming up with the idea for the north and south format.
"That's just another example of the team atmosphere where everyone contributes in the league," Ripley said.
"I just have a title because everyone has a membership and a hand in this league."
With the league solidified, financially stable and all of the schools committed, Ripley doesn't see any need for any kind of sweeping changes.
"I think we have a good vision for this league, all the by-laws are in stone and I am looking forward to working with everyone here to continue to expand and give opportunities for our kids," Ripley said.
Beaver Local principal Tom Cunningham was elected the vice president of the league. Buckeye Local principal Coy Sudvary was re-elected for another term as treasurer and Edison principal Matt Morrison will remain as the league's secretary.
Also during the meeting, the Buckeye 8 announced that Buckeye Local's Brennan Czuchran and Indian Creek's Whitney Martin are the recipients of the league's scholarships.
Staskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org