January 20, 2019

W-P Board passes resolution in support of merging athletic conferences


WHITTEMORE — The Whittemore-Prescott school board unanimously approved a resolution Dec. 10 supporting a merger between the Huron Shores Conference, W-P’s current athletic conference, and the North Star League.

W-P athletic director Jeff Erickson said that in the past the NSL was resistant of accepting schools the size of W-P, a class C school, and added that the district had tried to gain admittance to the NSL before and was turned down. However, the league’s stance has changed recently, he said.

“The climate is changing in the North Star League in that some schools were looking at going elsewhere,” he said.

About six weeks before the Dec. 10 meeting, the NSL athletic directors had a meeting concerning expansion, according to Erickson. At that meeting, the prospect of merging with the HSC was discussed, he said.

“At that time, the A.D.s voted 8-0 to approve the merger,” he said.

Since that meeting, superintendents in both conferences had been further discussing the issue, but two schools in the HSC appear to be trying to speed up the process, Erickson said.

“Oscoda and Alcona were going to write letters to the North Star League asking for admittance, just for the two schools,” he said.

According to Erickson, per HSC policies, three of four schools have to agree to major league changes, such as a merger. He said Tawas has been reaching out to former Northeast Michigan Conference schools Standish-Sterling, Pinconning and Bay City John Glenn, so for the merger process to take the next step, W-P had to act.

If the district did not act quickly, he added, scheduling could become a nightmare, especially if new conferences form and W-P were left out.

“We run the risk of being shut out of any conferences that may merge,” he said.

Not showing support of the merger could once again cause W-P to play sports as an independent school or force them to pursue joining a league with larger schools, Erickson said.

Board president Steve Bassi said W-P has gone down both of those routes before, as it competed for many years as an independent, and in the Northeast Michigan Conference, where it was much smaller than most of the other league members. He said moving forward with the HSC-NSL merger was a much better option than either of those choices.

“It’s a no-brainer,” he said. “I don’t think it’s something we can sit around and wait for.”

Barb Janish, a coach at W-P, said the Cardinals could be looking at playing games much further away than it currently does if the merger was not supported.

“I think travel time is a huge consideration,” she said.

Board member Russ Perrin added that being in a league gives athletes a greater chance to be recognized for their achievements by being named to all-conference teams. Bassi added that it also gives teams the chance to win a league title trophy, which would give the regular season more importance.

Erickson said if the full merger between leagues were not approved, W-P would file a letter requesting to join the NSL.

The Huron Shores Conference includes W-P, Oscoda, Alcona and Tawas. The NSL includes Mio AuSable, Arenac Eastern, Au Gres-Sims, Hale, Fairview, Posen, Atlanta and Hillman.


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