Something To Talk About...and Something To Reflect On for 2008
This clip was taken from last week's Grant County Herald newspaper, in their school board meeting story, for the West Central Area School district. Their activities director assistant said,
"The Minnesota High School League is proposing to start baseball one week earlier for pitchers and catchers so they can get their arms in shape before the first game. Also the League is proposing to allow volleyball teams to play two different teams on the same day outside of tournament play, to reduce travel costs, and increase non-league tournament play to 15 games instead of 12."
Quite honest, I'm stunned to see the topic of reducing travel costs on the radar of the MSHSL (high school league).
I'll call it, today's ray of light!
As a sidenote, over the next week I'm going to research the list of the teams that made up the West Lake Conference during the late 1960s when it was at its peak. I believe in terms of today's consolidated schools, the West Lake Conference included the following schools:
Paynesville, Maccray, B-B-E, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg, Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City, New London-Spicer, Eden Valley-Watkins.
That's only seven schools, which does not make for a good conference. However, it would be easy to throw in a Minnewaska or Kimball, to top it off at eight schools (an ideal number).
Look on a map. Every school is within one hour of the other. Every road trip would be one hour or less! (Kimball to Kerkhoven, or Kimball to Maccray in Clara City, might be stretching it to 1 hour, 10 minutes)
Kimball to Kerkhoven is 61 miles, mostly using US Highway 12, with a stretch through the city of Willmar that is not very quick or efficient. So they're you're talking about a 1-hour, 10 minute drive. Currently, Kimball is in the middle of the Central Minnesota Conference, but they have a very difficult time competing in the CMC. So perhaps they would not be interested at all in this idea, as they'd be on the far east side of that group.
The same can be said for Minnewaska, who would be on the far northwest corner of the new group. With their placement in the West Central South beginning this past fall (2007), they're not in bad shape travel-wise. So they are another school that may not be interested either, especially now that they are back in their natural conference rivalry with Morris schools (that dates back to the Great Depression).
I can play devil's advocate on the idea with Eden Valley-Watkins, who also most likely has no desire to leave the Central Minnesota Conference. They have a strong and vigorous rivalry with Pierz in all sports (with football rising to the top) and I don't know the odds that they'd be interested.
Back to my original point, it's an idea worth talking about. Watch fuel prices climb higher and higher in 2008!
Road trips of one hour or less, is that not an ideal conference? I would strongly argue that all of the schools on that list would jump on that idea in a heartbeat.
Before I give my next point, I want to say that a typical B-B-E athletic schedule is set up pretty well in my opinion. A few nearby schools who are not on the Central Minnesota Conference schedule such as K-M-S, Benson, and Osakis, are usually fall/winter/spring non-conference opponents for our various team sports.
At the same time, a great deal of discontent exists across our rural school districts in terms of conferences and travel times/distances for our student-athletes, as well as the issue of bussing costs and fan travel costs. If the idea of breaking up and re-building conferences in our area does not pan out, then at least we can say we tried.
How do we get it started?
On yet another note...I want to give thanks for a tragedy-free 2007 when talking about B-B-E's student athletes. It's a relative miracle that accidents caused by teenage drivers are not more frequent than they are. I remember being a teenage driver, and it was not pretty! We should all reflect on how lucky we are that our worst nightmare never happened this year, and let's hope and pray that it does not happen in 2008 either. I'm the last person who can give advice on how to influence teenagers to watch their driving behavior... so I hope parents can continue having a positive influence on the young drivers of B-B-E.
Happy New Year, Jaguars sports fans.
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