The Greater Johnstown School District was notified on September 12, 2023, that its application to join the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) has been approved for the 2024-2025 school year. GJSD will end its membership in the Foothills Council after this current school year and join as a new member in the WAC – along with Cobleskill-Richmondville – for next school year.
In changing league affiliation, Johnstown will compete against similarly sized schools such as C-R, Fonda-Fultonville, Duanesburg and Berne-Knox-Westerlo, along with other local Fulton County schools in close proximity including Northville, Mayfield, Galway and OESJ.
The decision to apply for membership to the WAC comes after a full year of research, in which Johnstown’s Shared Decision Making Committee created a focused ad hoc committee devoted to the topic of athletic affiliation. Based on the committee’s research, its final recommendation to the Superintendent was that the District should move affiliations from the Foothills Council to the WAC, a measure that was approved by the Board of Education in April of this year.
Lacrosse (both boys and girls) and field hockey are two sports that currently do not compete in the WAC. District administrators in Johnstown are closely following the recommendations of the SDM Athletic Ad Hoc Committee to confer with head coaches of those programs to develop alternative plans for competitive play for the 2024-25 school year. Options include applying for associate membership in the Foothills or other leagues for only those sports, or building an independent schedule.
The move does not impact football, which participates in classification play; swimming, which would move to the Aquatic League; or alpine/nordic skiing, which does not have league affiliation due to the small number of schools that offer those sports. Golf is currently played as a co-ed sport in the WAC.
“We’re convinced more than ever that this is the right time to be making this change in our District,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. William Crankshaw said. “We’ve seen a downward trend in student population, and it seemed we were differing more each year from the larger schools of the Foothills Council. Feedback from our SDM ad hoc committee showed that having fewer students available to participate in athletics sometimes resulted in smaller rosters, skewed outcomes, deflated school spirit, and sometimes not being able to field JV and modified teams at all,” he added.
The average enrollment of students in grades 9-12 for Foothills Council schools is around 700 students, and the average high school population of WAC schools is about 250 students. Johnstown’s enrollment for grades 9-12 is 440 students (from 2021-22).
Crankshaw said that another advantage of moving to the WAC is the geographic proximity of member schools. “Schools in closer proximity translates into shorter bus rides, less time spent traveling to away games, and less wear and tear on our buses — all very compelling reasons for why this decision made sense for Johnstown.”
“The Foothills Council has been a wonderful partner for the Greater Johnstown School District for decades, but we believe this is the best move for our student-athletes and for Johnstown’s athletic programs. We will continue to work closely with our Foothills colleagues as we finalize the details of our move to the WAC,” Crankshaw said.