When the leaders of the largest Catholic high schools in Washington and the surrounding suburbs surveyed the local sports landscape 23 years ago, they saw an opportunity to combine the area’s girls’ and boys’ Catholic leagues for the first time. St. John’s and Carroll had just gone co-ed, and a conference of 12 academic institutions with shared values and budding athletic programs, all within a 40-mile radius, made sense.
For more than two decades, the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference has been a breeding ground for future professional athletes and coaching legends. Packed gyms and stadiums, as well as a brand that resonates both locally and nationally, became part of the league’s fabric. But as perennial basketball and football powerhouses like DeMatha and Good Counsel expand in size and reach, a growing chasm in resources and rules enforcement threatens to rip apart one of the nation’s preeminent high school leagues.