Unity and Monticello high schools are hoping that one ending rolls over to a new beginning. They have applied for membership to the Sangamon Valley Conference.
The request will be considered as soon as next week’s SVC meeting in Rantoul.
“It makes a lot of sense, and we hope it works out,” Unity athletic director Scott Hamilton said. “If we can get into a league with St. Thomas More and St. Joseph-Ogden, it becomes very appealing.”
Unity, Monticello and Maroa-Forsyth are the three Okaw Valley Conference members not asked to be part of that league’s restructuring. The 12-school Okaw breakup will take place after the conclusion of the 2013-14 school year.
“One of the things that made the Okaw so successful is all of the publicity it gets from the Decatur newspaper and Decatur TV station,” Hamilton said. “If you can get a conference together and have Paxton-Buckley-Loda, St. Joseph-Ogden, St. Thomas More, Unity and Monticello, the publicity that could be gained could really elevate the league even higher than what it is.”
Monticello athletic director Randy Moss believes answers will be forthcoming sooner rather than later.
“In the next two weeks, we will know what’s going on,” Moss said.
The SVC currently has seven football-playing members and one school (Cissna Park) that does not field a football team of its own.
Paxton-Buckley-Loda athletic director John Overstreet said the SVC is “looking to expand and solidify the conference” and confirmed the application request by Monticello and Unity will be on the upcoming agenda.
“I don’t know if the principals will vote on it or not,” Overstreet said.
The SVC has not received an application for membership from Maroa-Forsyth but has heard informally from Dwight.
Meanwhile, the schools planning to leave the current Okaw Valley Conference have selected a name for their nine-school league, barring objections from the IHSA: the Central Illinois Conference. The new league cannot officially be created until individual school boards vote to formally leave the Okaw. Those monthly meetings will be upcoming in the next two weeks.
“It was pretty straightforward. There wasn’t much discussion (about the conference name),” Meridian Principal Jack Blickensderfer said.
There was talk about whether to immediately seek a 10th team. That idea didn’t gain support.
“It seemed like a nice chance to get our feet set and build from the ground up,” Tuscola athletic director Ryan Hornaday said. “The day will come we will grow into a larger league, but in the meantime, we’ll be fine with nine to get it stable and established.”
Hornaday said the process has already started for Central Illinois Conference teams to fill the one football vacancy that will be on the schedules starting in 2014.
“The ball is rolling,” he said.
Hornaday believes the conference name was well-conceived.
“This (name) was one of the first that came up,” he said. “The CIC. It’s like the ACC or the SEC. It has a nice ring to it.”
For Blickensderfer, the best part of Tuesday was the chance to move forward.
“It was nice to walk out of the meeting and have some things resolved,” he said.