Thoughts on Deerfield

dshirley@macon.comFebruary 4, 2013 

Yes, I'm the sports editor at The Telegraph in Macon, and we focus on Middle Georgia sports, but the whole GISA-GHSA debate really affects the whole state. And I did spend eight years at the Albany Herald and still keep up with the goings on in The Good Life City (met my wife there; my two sons were born there).

So last week, I called Deerfield-Windsor athletics director Gordy Gruhl to get his take on Mount de Sales jumping to the GHSA. Deerfield, obviously, isn't in Middle Georgia, but it has strong ties to the GISA teams in Macon: Mount de Sales, Tattnall Square and Stratford (and formerly FPD).

We included one Gruhl quote from my interview in Jonathan Heeter's story about Westfield staying in the GISA, but Gruhl had much more to say.

I have known Gruhl for a long time (since moving to Albany in 1996 for my first stint at The Herald) and knew he would be candid with me about a possible Deerfield move. And he was.


Gruhl has spent 38 years in the GISA, most of them at Deerfield, and he's obviously disappointed with the state of the GISA and what things look like in the future.

"It's definitely sad to see what's happening," he said. "The competition with (the Macon schools) has been good for us, so if we lose them, it would be a big drop in competition. Playing those schools has been good for us, and traveling to Macon to play them has been a way of life for us. The rivalries we have built with those schools have been good for us, and we will miss Mount de Sales, and I know our league will, too."

Gruhl's in a tough spot, to be honest. His allegiance is to the GISA, for sure, but he also is a basketball coach and an athletics director who wants his athletes and teams to face the best competition. That's becoming harder and harder to find in the GISA.

So what will it take for Deerfield to make the jump? If Stratford or Tattnall leave, I think the other one will follow. And that would probably force Deerfield's hand.

I just can't see Deerfield settling for playing against smaller GISA schools for titles.

"I think moving to the GHSA is something we have to look at, especially with the trickle down if Tattnall and Stratford leave," Gruhl said. "If that happened, we'd have to seriously look at moving. The April deadline is out there, and that makes it tough. It's a difficult decision, one we won't make hastily. It's a big decision. It can't be a knee-jerk decision. It's something you have to take seriously and really look into. There's no doubt it's quick turnaround for this cycle, and that's tough.

"We just have to worry about what's best for our students and do what's best for our school."

In the end, I think that will be a move to the GHSA. There's no doubt in my mind Deerfield can compete in the GHSA.

It has the resources, facilities, coaches, community support and the athletes to do so. And if Tattnall and Stratford both make the move, Deerfield would have a hard time finding adequate competition in the GISA.

"It's a little different with the three Macon schools because they're all up there together and have each other to play, and if they all move, they'd be intact in a region together," Gruhl said. "We have a strong bond with them and have had a lot of competition with them, and we'd hate to lose them because of the drop off in competition. Because of that, it would be something we'd have to look at if the competition isn't there for our teams."

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