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Greater Spokane League, District 8 director positions split for upcoming athletic season

UPDATED: Thu., April 16, 2020

Herb Rotchford, chair of the Spokane Youth Sports Awards (SYSA) selection committee, unveils the trophies on June 11, 2019, at the Martin Woldson at the Fox Theater. (Libby Kamrowski / The Spokesman-Review)
Herb Rotchford, chair of the Spokane Youth Sports Awards (SYSA) selection committee, unveils the trophies on June 11, 2019, at the Martin Woldson at the Fox Theater. (Libby Kamrowski / The Spokesman-Review)

The Greater Spokane League is going to have a different look to it this fall – or whenever schools are allowed to start playing games again.

Along with the different look will come different leadership.

Since 2011, one person has held the director positions for both the GSL and the Washington Interscholastic Athletic Association District 8 – Herb Rotchford.

But with the merging of the GSL and Great Northern League to become a 4A/3A/2A league, increasing the number of members from 10 to 15 and school districts to nine, league organizers – made up of member schools’ principals and athletic directors – decided to split the job into two positions for the upcoming school year.

“We need to make sure that as we implement the inaugural season with the new Greater Spokane League, we need to really have someone in place that has the time, has the background, has probably historical knowledge and is able to really shepherd this this new league as we move forward,” Rotchford said on Thursday.

Rotchford will stay on as District 8 director, and the league is taking applications for his replacement as GSL director.

“We were just thankful (Herb) is still involved,” Mt. Spokane principal Darren Nelson said. “We would have loved to have him in both capacities, but we’ll take him as the district director and we’ll hire a new GSL director.”

Rotchford said the job has been more complicated the past three years after the nine Mid-Columbia Conference schools left District 5 and joined District 8. With the addition of five new members to the GSL – plus new Central Valley School District high school Ridgeline set to open in 2021 – Rotchford and the organizers agreed both positions needed someone’s undivided attention.

“When you take a look at the amount of attention, and the amount of commitment it’s going to take as the league director, it is more than a full-time position,” Rotchford said.

“It’s an important job,” Mead athletic director John Barrington said. “It’s a leadership role. You want (the position) to continue to promote our league and keep our league organized.”

Rotchford has worn both hats since he retired as principal at Shadle Park.

“I’ve really, really enjoyed it,” Rotchford said. “We’ve had really good years, and the league is in good financial shape.”

He mentioned the league’s partnership with SWX and ESPN 700 and its marketing arm as keys to developing and retaining community corporate sponsorship.

“And we’ve been very successful statewide in postseason play,” Rotchford said. “So actually the league is in great shape right now.”

But new challenges lie ahead.

“I think it’s appropriate that somebody is just going be focusing on our league, which is now bigger,” Barrington said. “I think it obviously becomes a bigger task.

“I think the leadership is really important when it comes to trying to get everybody on the same page, or at least a consensus when it comes to making decisions when it comes to schedules and playoffs, and also being an advocate for our league in the postseason.”

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