Bye, bye, EWC: Plymouth not happy with WIAA realignment plans

¦ PHS would move out of EWC; CLC, Olympian would be combined
by Greg Ceilley of The Review staff

The WIAA Board of Control approved the Green Bay area realignment plan Jan. 29 which impacts 76 schools and eight conferences in the northeast and east-central parts of the state, including the Eastern Wisconsin and Central Lakeshore conferences.

The plan takes effect at the start of the 2015-16 school year. A new conference formed includes Campbellsport, Kewaskum, Plymouth and Waupun from the East- ern Wisconsin Conference; and Berlin, Ripon and Winneconne from the Eastern Valley Conference; and Kettle Moraine Lutheran (Jackson) from the Wisconsin Flyway Conference.

The revised eight-team Eastern Wisconsin Conference includes current members Kiel, New Holstein, Sheboygan Falls and Two Rivers while moving Brillion, Chilton, Manitowoc Roncalli and Valders from the Olympian Conference.

Another conference combines the CLC with a number of Olympian Conference members to form a 14-team league consisting of Cedar Grove-Belgium, Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah, Hilbert, Howards Grove, Kohler, Manitowoc Lutheran, Mishicot, Oostburg, Ozaukee, Random Lake, Reedsville, St. Mary Central (Neenah), Sheboygan Lutheran and Sheboygan Christian.

Two of the key factors in the WIAA’s realignment plan are to have similar enrollment sizes and less overall travel for schools in their respective conferences.

However, in Plymouth’s case, the school would have more travel in its new conference than in the current EWC. Travel and some of the schools in the new league not having all of the sports were the two primary reasons why PHS had appealed the WIAA’s initial consideration of the plan.

“Our appeal was against the entire realignment. That would have kept the EWC as is,” said Mike Slagle, PHS athletic director.

“Plymouth does not benefit from the realignment. We are still the largest team in the conference and we have teams of about the same size as we had in the EWC. We will need to create hybrid conferences in some sports.

“We have a lot more travel. Travel cost will go up,” said Slagle.

David Schmid and Bart Larson, athletic directors for Howards and Elkhart, respectively, support the new CLC/Olympian conference.

“I am excited for the opportunity to expand the reach of our [CLC] conference,” said Schmid.

“I think anytime you have the ability to add more options as far as schools go, sizes of those schools and sports they offer, it is going to be a benefit for your student athletes, the programs they compete in and your community.”

“There is always some anxiety with anything that is new but I think there are many positives to it,” Larson said.

“Change is never easy and we will hit some bumps in the road because that is natural with any change but over time this should be a success for both parties.

“In the end, we do what is best for our kids and this gives us so many more options for them in terms of opportunities and competition,” said Larson.

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