Xavier’s future in the Eastern Valley Conference was one of the big question marks following Wednesday’s WIAA regional meeting at Fox Valley Lutheran High School.
But the Hawks’ fate won’t be determined until a final proposal is submitted on Oct. 11, with a final vote coming in early December.
Conference realignment was one of the many topics at the meeting for area activities directors and athletics directors, which also included amateur status and development camps to emerging sports and legislation to WIAA constitutional changes, as well as financial changes and updates.
But what was paramount on the mind of Xavier athletic director Kathy Bates was where her school would end up in proposed realignment for the 2014-15 season.
In a proposal put forth by the WIAA, Xavier will be moved out of the Eastern Valley to a new-look Bay Conference. The new-look Bay would include Xavier, Green Bay East, Green Bay West, Menasha, New London, Seymour, Shawano and West De Pere.
Xavier and Waupaca are the two schools being looked at as possible entries into the Bay, with WIAA associate director Deb Hauser leaning towards Xavier.
It’s a move that doesn’t make sense for Bates and had several Eastern Valley members asking the WIAA to reconsider the proposal.
“I’m hoping with (Fox Valley Lutheran) speaking on our behalf and my factual listings with regards to proximity and tradition … hopefully, those factors would at the very least switch Waupaca and Xavier in the proposals.”
Hauser said there were several reasons why she has Xavier heading to the Bay and not Waupaca, most of which had to do with geography and competitiveness.
“Some of it has to do with travel,” she said. “Obviously, in my opinion, Xavier fitting into the Bay is a little better fit than taking Waupaca, which is more of a rural community and asking them to go up into the Green Bay area.
“I think Xavier can be competitive in the new Bay Conference, so those two things led me to place them there for now. Whether that’s final? This is all pretty fresh yet.”
A quick look at the schools that Xavier will be traveling to in the new Bay shows that Hauser is correct in terms of travel time, according to Google Maps, but the actual savings in time may be negligible.
Xavier, which would be the smallest school enrollment-wise (604) in the new Bay, would average about 26 minutes per trip to those schools compared to 43 minutes per trip in the 10-team Eastern Valley that includes Clintonville, Denmark, Fox Valley Lutheran, Freedom, Little Chute, Luxemburg-Casco, Marinette, Oconto Falls and Wrightstown, a savings of 17 minutes on average.
Waupaca in the same scenario would travel 72 minutes to the teams in the Eastern Valley and 58 minutes to the teams in the Bay, a savings of 14 minutes.
Both schools would see their travel time decrease if they would head to the Bay, with Waupaca saving about three more minutes in travel time than Xavier.
Waupaca AD Carl Eggebrecht told Hauser at the meeting that the Comets are worried about being competitive in the Bay.
“We would prefer to stay in the conference that you’re recommending,” Eggebrecht said. “Distance is a concern, but that’s the least priority. Competition-wise, I think if you look at our overall sports we have not been ranked very high in our conference for overall sports competition.”
Representatives from Pulaski and Ashwaubenon let Hauser know that they would like to be considered for inclusion into the Bay, but would be OK with being placed in the FRCC.
That new-look Fox River Classic Conference would also include Bay Port, De Pere, Green Bay Preble, Green Bay Southwest, Manitowoc, Notre Dame, Sheboygan North and Sheboygan South.
If Pulaski and Ashwaubenon were to enter the Bay, that would make the FRCC an eight-team conference and force schools like Green Bay Preble (enrollment 2,160) to look for nonconference games outside the area.
“I was aware that they had an interest in looking elsewhere,” Hauser said. “So I do tend to agree with the bigger schools in the FRCC that if we made it an eight-team conference, it would require them to go a long ways to find a nonconference football game. So I’m comfortable with the proposal I’ve put forward with the FRCC at this point.
“I don’t get that Ashwaubenon and Pulaski are adamantly opposed to being a part of (the FRCC) at this point.”
Another interesting development was the Central Wisconsin Lakeshore Conference representatives asking to merge with some teams in the Olympian/Packerland to form a new 14-team conference that would take some of the teams from the O/P, including Hilbert, Manitowoc Lutheran, Mishicot, Reedsville and St. Mary Central.
That would leave the O/P with Gibraltar, Southern Door, Sevastopol, Sturgeon Bay, Algoma, NEW Lutheran, Kewaunee and Oconto as the remaining schools.
“That was a nice revelation today and I was happy to have that come forward,” Hauser said. “(The CWLC) is struggling with football down there. They’re down to six teams. They’re looking to help themselves, which is a great thing. To have them here and be unanimous in wanting to do that … I’m going to look at that very strongly and that could be part of the final proposal.”
Also, a new-look Fox Valley Association that has Hortonville leaving the Bay to replace Menasha was approved by FVA members unanimously.
— Ricardo Arguello: 920-993-1000, ext. 558, or firstname.lastname@example.org; On Twitter@PCRicardo