SSC still looking for conference



ARENAC COUNTY — The 2011-12 varsity sports schedules are ready, but Standish-Sterling Central is still in search of a conference to join for the 2012-13 sports seasons.

Ben Welmers, athletic director at SSC, said he has been looking at conferences since it was announced in the winter of 2010 that the Northeast Michigan Conference would fold after the 2010-11 year. He added that the search has been a challenge.

“I had created a proposal to join the Tri-Valley (Conference) last year, but nothing came of it,” he said. “I think my proposal left some schools with some hard feelings.”

Welmers said joining the Jack Pine Conference has also been an option over the past few years.

“We have been looking to join them (Jack Pine) for the last few years now,” he said. “The problem is, they have eight teams in that conference and it is not ideal for them to add a ninth team.”

The Jack Pine Conference currently consists of Beaverton, Clare, Farwell, Gladwin, Harrison, Houghton Lake, Meridian and Roscommon schools. Welmers said he has had discussions in the past with other area schools about increasing the Jack Pine Conference to 12 teams, but those talks did not progress.

Welmers said SSC’s location has created problems while looking for a conference.

“Who is out there for us?” he said. “If you look east, there is water and a number of class D schools. If you look to our north, there are more smaller schools who are not interested in playing us.”

Welmers said football has a large influence on schools wanting SSC to compete against them in athletics.

“Football drives everything,” he said. “This whole search is like a board game. You have to find a way to make all of the pieces fit.”

Welmers said he will still continue to look at the Tri-Valley Conference as an option for the future.

“The problem we have is that we would need them to realign,” he said. “If they don’t, it just won’t work for us. We are 95 miles north of some of the closer schools.”

“Another factor is the economy,” he said. “Schools don’t want to have to travel that far.”


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