Scott Kaufman looked around the conference room full of his Greater Miami Conference athletic director colleagues gathered at a West Chester restaurant.
Another school year was upon those in the room. Yet, there was time for reflection too.
This school year, in particular, is significant for the GMC as it celebrates its 50th anniversary of competition.
“One of the neat things is how we come together for best needs of the conference,” Kaufman said. “This group is truly looking out for the best interest of kids in the conference.”
Just a day before the Ohio High School Athletic Association boys’ and girls’ golf seasons begin – which officially kicked off the fall sports season in early August – athletic directors from the 10-member GMC gathered to discuss issues for the upcoming school year and beyond.
One of the oldest and most respected high school athletic conferences in the state, the GMC started in the 1966-67 school year with six charter member schools: Fairfield, Hamilton Garfield, Hamilton Taft, Miamisburg, Middletown and Princeton.
Kaufman, the Lakota West athletic director who was previously at Princeton earlier in his career, is in his 18th year overall in the GMC. He jokingly called himself the baby when he joined the two men seated to his right and left at a table.
To his right sat longtime GMC Commissioner Steve Shuck and to his left was longtime Lakota District Athletic Director Stu Eversole.
“Steve and Stu gives our entire group stability,” Kaufman said as the group met took a break for lunch. “The history of the league matters. They do such a great job of representing us and maintaining that history.”
Shuck, who has been in the conference since it started in 1966, worked in the Princeton school district for 30 years as an assistant athletic director and physical education teacher.
He is also well-known in the Cincinnati area for making his football playoff projections each season since 1996.
Shuck is quick to credit others around the conference with its success and keeps a simple approach with his objective. “I just want us to operate with class,” he said.
“He is a strong believer in the league and he’s done a lot to promote it,” former Princeton football coach Pat Mancuso said.
Eversole has been working within the GMC since 1973. He has been an athletic director in the GMC since 1985. He is the President of the GMC.
Eversole said and the conference stands on its own merits in numerous ways in male and female sports each season.
“We produce a good product,” Eversole said. “We’ve got a good organization. It’s been a well-run league from the beginning.”
Much has changed since that school year 50 years ago. Only boys competed in the eight sports offered – cross country, tennis gymnastics, wrestling, swimming, golf, baseball and track and field, according to the conference website.
The temporary name for the conference was Tri-County Conference, according to former GMC publicity director Jim Blount. He said the temporary name likely was mentioned in the winter and spring prior to the fall of 1967.
A newspaper article from 1967 said the Tri-County Conference was seeking a permanent name.
“Student councils at each member school are being asked to submit two suggested names,” the newspaper reported. “Art departments in the schools will design a conference symbol when a name is selected.”
Mancuso, 86, remembers the anticipation of joining the conference.
“I think we all took it serious,” Mancuso said. “We thought it could lead to something real good.”
Mancuso led the Vikings to state football titles in 1978, 1983 and 1987 along with state runner-up finishes in 1972, 1988 and 1990.
Mancuso, who arrived at Princeton in 1960 and later became athletic director from 1978-1997, still enjoys watching every Princeton football game – home and away.
And he still has high regard for the conference. “I always felt it was probably the strongest public high school league in Ohio,” Mancuso said.
The GMC has received like-minded praise from its coaches and others in the high school sports community over the years. It has received plenty of attention in recent years for the success of numerous individuals and team sports.
Entering this school year, the member schools have won 44 OHSAA team championships and 139 OHSAA individual event championships, according to the conference website.
There have been teams ranked nationally and numerous individuals with high school All-American recognition.
There have also been many changes over the years, but more recently the conference has continued to maintain it would rather not seek expansion and does not want to split into divisions.
Football wasn’t added until the second year of the conference in 1967-68 when boys’ basketball was also offered. Miamisburg left at the end of that school year.
Girls’ sports competed in the third year of the conference with volleyball and basketball in 1968-69.
The GMC produced its first individual state champion in 1969 when Princeton’s Charles Gayles won a state heavyweight title.
Taft and Garfield – two charter members of the GMC – consolidated effective the fall of 1980. That same year Lima Senior and Lakota joined the league.
The conference expanded to eight teams by 1989-90 with the addition of Sycamore and Milford.
The GMC expanded to 10 members with the addition of Colerain and the split of Lakota by the 1997-98 school year.
By 2001, junior high programs operated under the GMC umbrella and that has helped provide a solid base for the varsity teams, Shuck said.
By the 2007-08 school year, Mason replaced Milford in the conference. And the GMC remains the same this school year with Colerain, Fairfield, Hamilton, Lakota East, Lakota West, Mason, Middletown, Oak Hills, Princeton and Sycamore.
“The best team (in the GMC) in each sport has a chance to compete for a state championship,” Kaufman said.
And what school could ask for anything more from its conference.
(Special thanks to Lakota West historian Bob Ashby for his assistance on the GMC history).