2015-04-28 / Front Page

New-Look Western Indiana Conference Will Expand To 11 Schools For 2015-16 Seasons

by Michael Stanley
Staff Writer

Owen Valley High School Athletic Director Bryan Archer and OVHS Principal Rhonda Schafer discuss the make up of an expanded Western Indiana Conference beginning with the 2015- 2016 school year. (Staff Photo) Owen Valley High School Athletic Director Bryan Archer and OVHS Principal Rhonda Schafer discuss the make up of an expanded Western Indiana Conference beginning with the 2015- 2016 school year. (Staff Photo) Increasing the importance of conference play on the high school athletic court or playing field will be the biggest impact of an expanded Western Indiana Conference (WIC) beginning with the 2015-2016 school year. Owen Valley High School and its six WIC counterparts will welcome five new schools to the mix, all from the West Central Conference.

“It’s been a lot of planning, a lot of meetings and I feel like it’s going to be good for the kids in the end. I think it will be really neat to have the East-West competitions, and the tournaments at the end will be an exciting time for our kids to compete,” OVHS Principal Rhonda Schafer said.

OV will join rivals Edgewood and Cloverdale in the WIC East division, along with Brown County and newcomers Cascade and North Putnam. The WIC West division will consist of Greencastle, Northview, South Putnam, South Vermillion, Sullivan, and West Vigo.

Those divisions, though, will only be in place for the upcoming 2015-2016 school year. In 2016- 2017, South Vermillion will leave the WIC all together, allowing North Putnam to switch to the West division and new addition Indian Creek will fill the void left in the East division.

OVHS Athletic Director Bryan Archer said North Putnam will take the place of South Vermillion on the athletic schedules, and Indian Creek will replace North Putnam.

“The team sports will play crossover games, so you’ll be seeded in your division from your play against teams within that division throughout the season. There are certain dates set for cross-over games, so the number one seed in the East will play the number one seed in the West, and so on,” Archer explained. “The East and West will alternate who hosts those cross-over games each year. Individual sports will have big, one-day tournaments. I think it will be great because it provides a championship atmosphere so every school will really be playing for something.”

Mrs. Schafer said communication with coaches has been key, noting all seem to excited about the championship concept.

“It’s a tournament-type style where you have to perform in that situation to prepare for the sectional.

I feel like the coaches are on board with it, but it’s put a lot on our athletic director with changing schedules,” she noted. “Now we’re going to be playing some different schools and while those rivalries will still exist, there will be some new rivalries as well.”

With OVHS in a central location, Archer has been able to keep teams traditionally found on local varsity sports schedules included, even if the contest doesn’t count toward the final WIC standings. Location may also play a role in OVHS hosting some of the team sport tournaments.

“So that is a little bit of an advantage for us. It doesn’t count in the conference standings, but those are teams we could face in the tournament, so he’s trying to keep those games as much as possible,” Schafer said. “Sullivan, Greencastle, and Northview have all been good games, good competition for us and we didn’t want to lose that, either. We’ve had those games for years, so it’s been good to keep as many of those on the schedules as possible.”

“As well as keeping our sectional opponents in mind,” Archer added. “We do have an advantage playing some of those teams who aren’t in our division, we can still play them in the regular season and get a look at them for the sectional. That’s important for us.”

Also due to location, OV likely won’t see much in the way of cost savings associated with travel expenses, but several other schools involved will. A trip from Brown County to South Vermillion is 196 miles. OV’s longest bus ride is 118 miles to South Vermillion.

“You’re never going to make everybody happy in these scenarios, but I really feel like everybody has worked together to try to make something good for the kids. There’s nobody else in the state doing this,” Schafer added.

OVHS is open to accept any donations to off-set the cost involved with updating flags and banners to represent each school in the newly expanded conference. For more information, contact the athletic department by calling 812-829-2266, extension 299.

“We’ll have to add more banners and flags for the schools coming in, but I think it’s going to be great just for our student-athletes and kids,” Archer said. “It’s just going to be a great atmosphere and competition, so our kids are really going to benefit from it.”

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