Although I don’t talk much about high school sports, I thought this story may be the exception. I am a 2005 graduate of Nokomis High School in Nokomis, Illinois and agree that the sports program has had its ups and downs.
Beginning Of A Conference Dynasty
Long before I was born, the Redskins sports program was part of one of Illinois‘ longest-standing high school athletic conferences TWICE since the beginning of their athletic program in the South Central Conference. In 1926, Nokomis joined nine other schools chartered with the Illinois High School Association to form this conference. However, Nokomis decided to leave the conference in 1944, only to return in 1955. After 29 years in this second run in the conference and spending 1984-85 unaffiliated, Nokomis would again abandon ship in favor of a new conference known as the Prairie State Conference, which was originally established for small athletic schools.
Since 1985, Nokomis has been affiliated with the conference, has been multiple time conference champions and have even won some state championships, more commonly the 1998-99 back-to-back state champions in girls basketball.
The Times……They Are Changing…..
In recent years, schools have been leaving their conferences and have made some conference messes of their own:
- After the 2009 football season, conference rivals Virden and Girard could consolidate their schools to become North Macoupin (NorthMac), which would create a vacancy for the Prairie State Conference. Bunker Hill would bite at the opportunity.
- According to Gale Thoroman, principal at Jacksonville Routt Catholic and the president of the Western Illinois Valley Conference, Bunker Hill is still bound to their agreement until the end of the 2011-12 school year and also states that the WIVC needed a two-year notice from the school before leaving the conference, something the school board and board superintendent Marg Rogers didn’t understand, but wanted to join the PSC before it was too late.
- The WIVC has problems of their own, since they actually have a vacancy which went into the 2010-11 school year due to Bunker Hill’s actions. But two western Illinois schools are vying for that conference bid: Camp Point Central and Mendon Unity. It was however resolved that Bunker Hill would have their final season under the WIVC affiliation while they search for a replacement. Bunker Hill will join PSC next fall.
- After the 2009-10 school year, Staunton and Gillespie school districts made their decisions to join the PSC, which caused the SCC to split into two divisions.
- NorthMac is now considering a conference jump to the Sangamo Conference, with perhaps Pawnee following suit.
- Alton Marquette is losing their conference affiliation and will be looking for a new conference.
- Nokomis, Staunton and Gillespie have been accepted for membership into the SCC, but that won’t be until 2012-13. All three districts are trying to expedite this to get in by next season.
Any way you look at it, you’re looking at redrawing the whole conference map landscape in the state of Illinois once again.
- South Central realignment may dissolve Prairie State Conference (Illinois Prep Track & Field)
- Rumors of Prairie State’s death prove premature (State Journal-Register)
- Bunker Hill move to Prairie State Conference hits snag (State Journal-Register)