Schools are hearing out the PCL committee, which is already a victory

Head shot of Tom Hardesty, a white man with short hair in a grey golf polo with the caption "Round Two with Tom Hardesty"

The movement to resurrect the Portage County League continues.

Gregg Isler, serving as acting league commissioner of a potential new PCL, along with assistant commissioners Brittany Dye and Tom Nader, have been moving forward this summer with their aim of drumming up support to bring back the league that existed from 1922 to 2005.

The movement, which got under way in early March and was officially launched May 24, is now in the information-gathering stage between the three commissioners and area schools. And while the process figures to be lengthy, the fact that school representatives are lending an ear to the prospect of a revived Portage County League is a victory in itself.

“Our committee continues to work together to position ourselves as a respected future opportunity for schools,” said Nader, a graduate of Rootstown High School, Kent State and former sports editor at the Record-Courier. “We have been fortunate to have meetings with multiple district administrators that have provided us with valuable information and feedback. The discussions have allowed us to learn a lot, and we have been proud to share our vision.”

The schools that are currently targeted by the committee as potential members of the new PCL are Crestwood, Field, Garfield, Mogadore, Lake Center Christian, Ravenna, Rootstown, Southeast, Springfield, Waterloo and Windham.

Heading into the 2021-22 school year, Portage County’s 12 high schools are spread across six leagues: the Portage Trail Conference (Mogadore, Rootstown, Southeast), Suburban League (Aurora, Kent Roosevelt), Chagrin Valley Conference (Crestwood), Metro Athletic Conference (Field, Ravenna, Streetsboro), Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference (Garfield, Waterloo) and Northeastern Athletic Conference (Windham). Former PCL member Woodridge is also in the Metro Athletic Conference.

“We understand that our plan requires significant consideration from a district’s perspective, so we are prepared to be patient in order to maintain open communication,” Nader said.

Stay tuned.


The social media response following my series of columns on the new PCL movement a couple months ago was interesting to say the least. The arguments both for and against were thought-provoking, but some I saw in the “against” column were a little head-scratching.

One said that fans in their community would rather see their school play unfamiliar teams from other counties than its traditional rivals in Portage, and that those games, regardless of sport, would bring a much larger gate.

Not down here on Earth they wouldn’t.

A few other posters made the claim that playing a PCL schedule would either hurt their football teams’ chances of qualifying for the playoffs, or fail to get their teams ready for the big boys in November should they earn a postseason berth.

Neither point is valid.

Point 1: Starting this season, 16 teams in each region will qualify for the playoffs. So if your team doesn’t make the postseason now, that’s on them, not the league. Win some games.

Point 2: If you’re worried a league isn’t up to your lofty standards and won’t get you sufficiently prepared for the playoffs, you’re welcome to beef up your non-conference schedule and breathe some rare air in September. Even if you lose a couple of those games, it shouldn’t matter since, again, 16 teams will represent each region in the playoffs. And having played a few heavyweights early in the season, your team won’t be in a state of shock when it takes the field against one in November.


My column a couple weeks ago on the Indians’ name change to Guardians next season elicited some extremely insightful comments, but one, from Jerry, was particularly on point, reading in part: “So they sacrifice the ticket sales of those of us that have supported the Indians in order to hopefully get the ticket sales of those who disliked the name.”

This is spot-on. Indians owner Paul Dolan surely realizes that the controversial move is going to anger a significant portion of the fan base, much of which might well stay away in droves — permanently. If that happens, Dolan will need the segment of the population that never attended an Indians game because of their nickname to suddenly show up at Progressive Field en masse to fill in the ticket sales gap.

It could happen. But if it doesn’t, the Guardians will be located elsewhere sooner rather than later. Teams with dwindling fan bases are teams heading for a change of scenery. Dolan desperately needs his target audience to do more than applaud the name change.

Either way, it’s a massive roll of the dice by the franchise. Time will tell if it comes up craps.


Any guesses on what the baseball team in Atlanta, football team in Kansas City, basketball team in the Bay Area and hockey team in Chicago will be called in five years?

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Tom Hardesty is a Portager sports columnist. He was formerly assistant sports editor at the Record-Courier and author of the book Glimpses of Heaven.