Kennedy Catholic High School has formally petitioned the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association to elevate its boys’ basketball program from a 1A classification to a 6A classification for the 2018-2020 seasons.
It is the highest and most competitive class PIAA offers.
Kennedy Catholic boys’ basketball has successfully competed at higher class levels over the past 3 or 4 seasons, composing a schedule that mirrors that of other 6A teams.
Last season, after winning back-to-back 1A championships –– earning Kennedy Catholic a total of 8 state titles in its storied history –– the stakeholders in the basketball program, including Head Coach Rick Mancino, Athletic Director John Niemi, members of the Athletic Committee of the school’s Board of Directors, and President Fr. Jason Glover, initiated discussion about playing at a higher level.
“We made inquiries about elevating the program for this coming season, but were advised to wait until the new PIAA cycle begins,” Glover stated.
The PIAA reclassifies teams based on a 2-year cycle, and this coming season is the second of that cycle. The new cycle will begin with the 2018-2019 season.
Mancino noted that, through the course of the 2016-17 season, his team competed against the top programs of every classification in Pennsylvania and Ohio, including Warren Harding, Butler, Latrobe, Alderdice, and Constitution. This season’s schedule includes First Love Christian Academy, Garfield Heights and Our Savior Lutheran School (Bronx, N.Y.).
“Those who follow high school basketball have been fortunate to see some pretty amazing teams and some pretty amazing games in our gym,” Mancino said. “This move is not only good for our players and our students, but it is also a benefit to the larger community who may not have the opportunity to witness this level of basketball, at least not locally.”
Currently, Erie High is the closest 6A basketball program to the Shenango Valley.
Glover agreed and added: “At Kennedy Catholic, we commit ourselves to strive to achieve the best in all of our programs –– in academics, in faith, in service, in the arts, and in athletics. Just as we challenge our students to academic excellence in our classrooms, we also strive to cultivate a culture that encourages athletic excellence.”
Glover sees the long-term benefits that this re-classification has for his student-athletes. pointing out,
“Successfully competing on this level will definitely attract the attention of top college coaches and recruiters. It certainly has the potential to bring more high-level scholarship offers to our student-athletes. For me, personally, that is what this move is all about –– our school’s ability to make possible for our students opportunities that might not otherwise be available to them. That is true for the academic scholarships our students consistently receive, and now I anticipate the same with respect to athletic scholarship offers.”
Joe Lombardi, chair of the athletic committee of the school’s board of directors added, “Making this move allows the tradition of Kennedy Catholic boys’ basketball to reach a new level, and we hope it will further promote our student-athletes to be recognized on the biggest stage of competition.”