New league may be formingPublished 8:49pm Thursday, May 2, 2013
The first domino has fallen and now it is time for members of the Lakeland and St. Joe Valley conferences, along with New Buffalo and Lake Michigan Catholic, to make a decision.
Plans have been in the works for some time for possibly forming a new league with the remaining teams in the Lakeland Conference and the members of the St. Joe Valley. New Buffalo and LMC also would like to join the new league, but may also remain members of the Red Arrow Conference.
Nothing official has been decided, but when the Kalamazoo Valley Association invited the Wolverine Conference’s Comstock to join the league, it opened the door for the other schools to spring into action.
A new 10-team league, which does not have an official name, would consist of Brandywine, Buchanan, Cassopolis and Bridgman from the Lakeland Conference; Bronson, Centreville, White Pigeon and Mendon from the St. Joe Valley; and New Buffalo and LMC from the Red Arrow.
Buchanan, which may be courted by the Wolverine to fill Comstock’s spot, would be the largest school in the new league with an enrollment of 465 students.
LMC would be the smallest school in the league with 160 students.
For most sports, the league would be divided into a pair of five-school divisions.
In all likelihood, Buchanan, Brandywine, Bridgman, New Buffalo and LMC would form one division with Cassopolis, Bronson, Centreville, White Pigeon and Mendon making up the other division.
The proposal must now be taken to each school board to decide if the new league is a good fit for their districts. Those meetings should take place in the next two weeks.
“What we will do on Monday night, Vance (Stratton) and I will kind of go over the history and the process the athletic directors went through,” Brandywine Supt. John Jarpe said. “The athletic directors brought the superintendents on board around Christmas. I started to network with the other superintendents and we tried to nail down when we would do it.”
The process got held up in March and April when the KVA showed interest not only in Comstock, but the St. Joe Valley teams.
“They (the KVA schools) wanted to wait. They weren’t turning their backs on us, but they wanted to weigh all their options,” Jarpe added.
And when the KVA issued only one invitation to Comstock to join its league, the plan was back on track.
Jarpe noted several reasons why this plan for a new league was put into place. They included level of competition, sports that were offered by the various schools and the levels of sports being offered as well as geography.