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District 518: School board conference vote set for Tuesday

WORTHINGTON — The District 518 Board of Education will vote Tuesday on whether to approve membership in a new athletic conference scheduled for kickoff in 2014-15.

After an exhaustive research process led by activities directors of the Southwest and South Central conferences involving months of discussion on possible rules, schedules and new conference configurations, the reality of what would be called the “Big South” conference could be around the corner. The school boards of Windom, Fairmont and Blue Earth approved the move this week and several others are set to have a vote next week.

“Really, this is all about continuing to provide more and better opportunities for kids,” said District 518 Superintendent John Landgaard Thursday.

The school board votes are on a purely individual basis, meaning that the boards who vote to become members of the new conference are in — and those who vote not to be included are simply out. That is, schools outside the new conference, in Landgaard’s words, “could be trying to fill independent schedules, which is really difficult these days.”

Scheduling could be particularly troublesome for those southwestern schools near the Iowa and South Dakota borders, which limits the pool of partners available to complete a full slate of games and matches. Not only could likely opponents be difficult to find, but the likelihood of longer trips to and from events — with all the added expenses involved — further complicate matters.

Though the actual membership of the new conference has yet to be sorted out, much of the formatting issues have already been considered. For some sports, two conference divisions will be formed —either an east-west configuration or a big school-small school configuration. Football would fall into the category of a single conference. Hockey could play a double round-robin schedule among all the conference schools that offer hockey as an activity.

The deadline for approving or rejecting the proposal is Nov. 27.

District 518 board member Lori Dudley believes the new conference idea is a popular one among her colleagues.

“I think it’s going to be a positive vote. I think there are four votes for sure, and it could be unanimous,” she said Thursday. “It’s in the best interest of Worthington High School. We don’t want to be sitting there (unattached) by ourselves.”

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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