For a small, private school such as Chandler Valley Christian, image is everything. So when the Trojans had to forfeit three games last week for using a player who had some unresolved eligibility issues, the folks at Valley Christian took it hard.
The school has cultivated a very clean, very successful image and this recent problem gave it the kind of blemish it works so hard to avoid.
“I think they are very protective of their image and they have every right to be,” Valley Christian football coach Bill Morgan said of the school’s administration. “(Athletic director) Marlin (Broek) basically has founded the school and he’s obviously done very well with our reputation.
“Because he’s been on the up and up and done things right, he’s been able to have successful programs. I don’t think he would tolerate anything but proper conduct.”
The perceived advantages that private schools have over public schools, especially at the 2A Conference level, have been discussed at length in this newspaper and elsewhere. The one argument that is heard over and over is that the private schools just reload each year with transfers. However, when it comes to getting transfer students, schools such as Valley Christian are at a distinct disadvantage.
“We’ve had kids come that have had to sit out a year,” said Broek, who has been at Valley Christian since its doors opened with 20 students in 1982. “It’s up to the parents if they want to sit out a year and some choose not to.”
Anyone who argues that private schools have an advantage over public schools because they can more readily get transfers is wrong.
“It’d be easier to go from public to public because they have attendance zones,” Arizona Interscholastic Association director Harold Slemmer said. “Private schools encompass the county. If you transfer out of a private school, you’d have to move out of the county if you wanted to play right away.”
To see the difference in transfer rules, all you have to do is look at the laundry list of high-profile transfers to places such as Chandler Hamilton, Mesa Red Mountain and Chandler.
No one is suggesting that Gavin Mack and Brock Hogan, who both transferred from Mesa Mountain View to Red Mountain, did anything shady. Both followed AIA rules and neither had to sit out a year.
Same goes for Brandon Trowbridge, who went from Mesa Desert Ridge to Chandler, and current Hamilton players Nico Sessions (from Gilbert High), Gerrell Robinson (from Phoenix Desert Vista) and Justin Salum (from Tempe Corona del Sol).
All six of those players transferred legally and are rightfully playing this year.
By contrast, two of Valley Christian’s best players this year, running backs Troy Roffi and Tyler Gaab, sat out a year after transferring from Desert Vista and Basha, respectively. Had either one transferred to another public school in the Valley, they likely would have played last year. When is the last time you heard of a highprofile player transferring from one public school to another and sitting out a year?
The amount of scrutiny that private schools face makes it difficult for them to pull any shenanigans. They must maintain a positive image or it’s unlikely parents will spend the kind of money it takes to send their kids there.
For Valley Christian and schools like it, there’s too much at stake to be known as a place that skirts the rules all in the name of winning.