League Realignment Shakes Up Malibu Sports

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Malibu girls volleyball should flourish in the new Tri-Valley League. 

Goodbye Oak Park and Oaks Christian. Hello Cate, Thacher and Foothill Tech.

In a sweeping move that occurs every four years, the California Interscholastic Federation realigned leagues throughout the Southern Section CIF in search of competitive equality. This year’s releaguing should ultimately benefit Malibu High School.

“With the releaguing, it puts us into an equitable situation where we can compete. Remember, we are a high school of 600 kids [325 girls, 275 boys],” Malibu Principal David Jackson said. “So now at least we are competing with schools the same size. It gives us an opportunity for our kids to succeed.”

For the next CIF athletic cycle, which runs from 2014-15 through 2017-18, Malibu remains a member of the TCAA (Tri-Counties Athletic Association) and will compete either in the Frontier League or Tri-Valley League depending upon the sport. Many schools were shuffled around in the process. 

Gone are powerhouses Oak Park and Oaks Christian, which have been moved to the Marmonte League or other leagues similar in strength and stature. Malibu will continue to compete with their local rivals in non-league matches.

“Those are two rivals that we are going to miss. We have a great relationship with them so we will play them now in non-league,” Athletic Director Chris Neier said. “We will keep that rivalry going with those schools. It’s fun and our students like to play them.”

The various moves may seem confusing. Malibu joins the Frontier League in boys and girls basketball, football, boys’ golf, softball, and boys and girls track and field. Familiar opponents include Bishop Diego, Carpinteria, Fillmore, Grace Brethren, Nordhoff, Santa Clara, Santa Paula, St. Bonaventure and Villanova Prep.

New members include Cate of Carpinteria, Thacher of Ojai and Foothill Tech of Ventura.

“We are excited to have Cate, Thacher and Foothill Tech. We have played Cate and Thacher in non-league contests before so now the games will be a little more meaningful,” Neier said.

Competing on a more even playing field will help athletics in general at Malibu. For example, the boys basketball program won a league title in 2012 with a 10-0 record but went a combined 2-18 the last two years when they battled Oak Park, Oaks Christian, St. Bonaventure, Santa Clara and Bishop Diego as part of the Tri-Valley League.

The hoops program will engage in Frontier League contests versus Cate, Grace Brethren, Fillmore, Foothill Tech, Thacher and Villanova Prep. 

“This will really help sports like boys and girls basketball, boys and girls volleyball and softball,” said Neier. “The games will be more competitive, which we are looking forward to.”

Many of the schools in the Frontier League will also crossover and participate in the Tri-Valley League (TVL). Malibu will compete in baseball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls soccer, boys and girls swimming, boys and girls tennis, boys and girls volleyball and boys and girls water polo.

Joining the Sharks in the TVL will be the same schools, along with La Reina of Thousand Oaks in girls’ sports.

During the past two years, Malibu won a combined 10 league titles. With Oak Park and Oaks Christian having departed entirely from league action, the Sharks will have plenty of opportunities to prosper and build upon their recent success.

“It should bring more excitement to the campus. The new leagues will be exciting and it will add a new flavor as we develop new rivalries,” Neier said. “We should do better in league games and in the standings. Hopefully, we can raise some more banners here.”

Jackson, meanwhile, is a big supporter of high school sports and values the importance of a strong athletic program. 

“It’s extremely exciting. When we talk about our athletes, they’re not athletes but rather student-athletes. Academics are very important. The athletic part of it is their way to express themselves besides the classroom,” Jackson said. “We have got really good coaches too. They are all here for the same reason—to help the young men and women here at Malibu grow up into fine human beings.”