The MIAA is getting a little bigger this upcoming 2011-2012 season, seeing the addition of two new schools to the area’s premier private school conferences: the Cristo Rey Jesuit High School and Gerstell Academy.

“Being in the MIAA is a blessing,” Cristo Rey Athletic Director Tony Cole said.  “The schools are more in line with what we are, since we are private schools, and we have been trying to be a part of the conference since the beginning.”

Battling through the Baltimore Innovative Athletic Conference for the last four years, the Cristo Rey Hornets have been going head to head with Baltimore-area charter schools since the school’s creation in 2007, never having a championship game to look forward to.

Now, with the move to the MIAA, Cole says the kids will not just drop the sport after the last game, but will now have a final goal  to try and achieve.

“We would just try to maintain,” Cole said of the school’s first four athletic years.  “Now, with the MIAA, there is stuffed etched in stone and something to play for; a championship.

“They used to go through a whole season and it would just be over.  Now they have something to play for.”

Playing its home games at Patterson Park, Cristo Rey will compete in 12 sports over the three-season year, including the school’s drawing sport, basketball.

“We hope to come in competitive,” Cole said.  “We don’t have a feeder program, but basketball is our staple here.  Our senior class played hard and weren’t able to achieve too much, but we still put four kids into the college lacrosse levels at McDaniel.  
“Our ninth grade class though, they went 18-2, so we are building off them and looking forward.”

The Hornets will be playing their basketball in the school’s gymnasium, located directly on campus just off Eastern Ave., playing in a setting much resembling Cameron Indoor Stadium.

In the “Hornets’ Nest,” students are packed on the school’s stage and just feet from the players’ benches, playing with their minds like the Duke Blue Devil Crazies, though Cole would much rather see the court resemble Cole Field House, as he was a managers of the University of Maryland’s men’s basketball team under head coach Lefty Driesell.

“We can pack 100 kids on the stage (directly behind one of the baskets), and you can see this place isn’t very big,” Cole said.  “It is hot, loud and intimidating.”

The school draws from all over the Baltimore area, offering the students a chance to work-off some of their tuition money through a corporate internship program, where the students work one day a week with local area businesses.  The time spent in the workforce shows students a different view of their prospective fields, allows the money made to be used as payment for tuition and provides students with terrific leads out of college.

In 2010, Cristo Rey’s first graduating class of 78 students all were accepted to college, four going to McDaniel to play lacrosse.

With the 2011-2012 season just around the corner, Cole says the teams are getting excited to see their new opponents, and hopes that excitement will lead to a strong start to the athletic year.

“We will be playing against teams that are pretty much in line with us, so I don’t think we will be out-matched,” Cole said.  “We are just very excited to participate in a new conference, and we are excited at getting a shot at a true championship.”

Cristo Rey Hornet Sports

Boys’ Soccer- Tim Heffnr
Girls’ Soccer- Liz Alexander
Boys’ Cross-Country- Matt Pinto
Girls’ Corss-Country- Lee Imbriano
Boys’ Basketball- Todd Kerr
Girls’ Basketball- Erin Finnegan
Varsity Cheerleading- Hope Dickerson
Baseball- Will Marbury
Softball- Tony Cole
Boys’ Lacrosse- Matt Hanna
Boys’ Track and Field
Girls’ Track and Field

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Cristo Rey, in addition to joining the MIAA for boys sports, had also joined the IAAM for girls sports.  This was incorrect. regrets this error.