CSAT to leave the N-O to join the NFL

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 13 April 2016 at 12:00 am

A member for nine years, the rapidly growing Charter School For Applied Technologies (CSAT) is leaving the Niagara-Orleans League to join the Niagara Frontier League this fall.

“It’s pretty much a done deal,” said CSAT Athletic Director Joel Reed who noted that the league’s Athletic Directors have already given their approval.

CSAT, which joined the N-O at the start of the 2007-08 school year, has been competing in boys and girls soccer, basketball and cross-country as well as volleyball, baseball and softball.

In joining the NFL, CSAT’s new league opponents will include Lockport, Niagara-Wheatfield, Lew-Port, Kenmore East, Kenmore West, Grand Island, North Tonawanda and Niagara Falls.

“We know we’ll be going from being the biggest school in the N-O to the smallest in the NFL so we’ll have to work to up our level of competition,” said Reed. “An opportunity presented itself and we felt this was the best time to pursue it. However, we really appreciate everything that the N-O has afforded us. The schools have been great to us.”

The newest enrollment numbers released by Section VI for the 2016-17 school year show that CSAT would have been the largest school in the N-O League with 471 students. (Those enrollment or “bed” numbers are based on the number of students in grades 9-11 this year).

Those numbers put CSAT ahead of Albion (457) followed by Newfane (437), Roy-Hart (359), Medina (356), Akron (328), Wilson (310) and Barker (182).

Reed though noted that it was not enrollment levels but transportation, the distances CSAT student/athletes have to travel to all road games in the N-O, and the cost of that transportation that was the biggest factor in the decision.

“The biggest factor was the cost of transportation, the travel time and the cost,” said Reed. “There has been concern about how late our students were getting back from all of our road games and budget wise you always have to be concerned about transportation costs.”

“Geographically they really aren’t close to us and they continue to get bigger so I think this will be a great fit for them,” said Medina Athletic Director Eric Valley of CSAT’s move to the NFL. “They have to do what is in the best interest of their students.”

Interestingly, CSAT will become the third NFL school to have their roots in the N-O League. Both Lew-Port and Niagara-Wheatfield also played their first years of interscholastic sports in the N-O.