by ANDY VILLAMARZO Hernando Sun Sports Writer
Hernando and Citrus county high schools have formed the Gulf Coast 8 Conference. The new conference will include the eight public high schools from the two counties:
Citrus, Crystal River, Lecanto, Central, Nature Coast, Hernando, Springstead, and Weeki Wachee.
Below is the press release provided by Springstead athletic director Dustin Kupcik.
“Hernando and Citrus County have announced that all the public high schools will be forming an athletic conference known as the Gulf Coast Eight (GC8). The conference will consist of Citrus, Crystal River and Lecanto from Citrus County and Central, Hernando, Nature Coast, Springstead and Weeki Wachee from Hernando County. Ron Allan, athletic director at Lecanto High School, has been named the President of the conference. There will be all-conference teams that will be decided upon at the end of the season coaches meetings. There will also be conference champions. In individual sports, there will be a conference tournament held at the end of the regular season. In team sports, the school with the best regular season record within the conference schedule will be named the champion. The only sport that will not have a conference champion is football due to required district play in regular season for state series. Conference Championships and All-Conference Teams will begin 2019-20 school year.”
Kupcik mentioned the forming of the new conference will help student-athletes with recognition when it comes to all sports, as they want to create some buzz to Citrus and Hernando counties.
“Creating a conference was something that all of the athletic directors in Citrus and Hernando, as well as our county AD (athletic director), Mr. Crognale, saw a lot of value in,” Kupcik said. It serves multiple purposes. For starters, it creates a legitimate, organized and overall grander platform to better highlight and recognizes the amazing student-athletes, coaches and teams we have here in Hernando and Citrus Counties. When a student-athlete is named to a GC8 All-Conference team it is going to hold some weight, it’s going to mean something. Often times (Hernando and Citrus County schools) feel like the "outsiders" when it comes to the Tampa Bay Area media coverage, so we are going to create some of our own buzz.”
Another supporter of the new conference is Hernando athletic director Mark Lee, who sees it as a great opportunity for Citrus and Hernando counties to get recognition through the new Gulf Coast 8 Conference.
“I think this is a great move for Hernando High and the other schools,” Lee said. “I remember Ron Allan, athletic director at Lecanto, and I was talking at the FIAAA conference last year about possibly doing this with how the FHSAA has made regular season district games not mandatory. This can help us out schedule-wise with a lot of sports. It is going to be tough to get Pasco schools on schedule as they have so many schools in their county that they can fill up their schedules pretty easy.”
Andy Villamarzo can be reached at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.