Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Aug. 13, 2001

Tri-Valley Conference to begin final year

By Patrice Waldron

At the end of school last spring, it was announced that the Tri-Valley Conference (TVC) would disband at the end of the 2001-2002 school year.

The conference, which was formed in the 1960s, has included both Holy Trinity of Winsted and Lester Prairie for the past several years.

Startring in 2002, both local schools will be part of the Gopher Valley Conference for football only along with Randolph, Lutheran of Bloomington, and other smaller schools.

Jim Brown, Holy Trinity's athletic director and football coach, said the conference should work well with Friday night games, and other small schools that are already familiar with each other.

"I think it's going to be a great, great conference for football," Lester Prairie Football Coach Joe Scoblic said.

For other sports, Brown will make an appeal before the conference board this week to be accepted into the Minnesota Christian Athletic Association (MCAA), which is made up of smaller private schools throughout the metropolitan area.

Lester Prairie is interested in the Central Minnesota Conference to the northwest, the Tomahawk Conference to the southwest, and the MCAA. It has not been determined where Lester Prairie will end up.

Other current Tri-Valley schools will be scattering to new conferences next fall:

­ Maple Lake will go to the Central Minnesota Conference.

­ St. Croix Lutheran and Concordia Academy will be in the Tri-Metro Conference.

­ Mayer Lutheran will find a home in the Minnesota River Conference.

­ Lutheran of Bloomington will be in the Gopher Valley for football, but is undetermined for other sports.

­ Randolph will be in a conference of larger and smaller schools for all other sports.

Conference switching comes up every so often as school enrollments, consolidations, etc. change.

Going to a new conference involves an application process, and an existing conference may choose to accept or decline an application.

Some of the reasons a school may be denied admittance into a new conference include scheduling, travel distance, facilities, and competitiveness.

It is also desirable to keep the number of teams in a conference at a number which works well for scheduling purposes.

For example, for football, having eight teams works well, but with an odd number, each week one team would have a bye or have to find a non-conference game.

Also considered is the distance teams must travel to compete against each other. The shorter the travel time the better.

Getting out of school early on a frequent basis to travel a long way for a game isn't good for anyone, and some students can fall behind, said Lester Prairie Athletic Director Bob Kuehl.

Sometimes the facilities available might be a deciding factor. When traveling to an away gamewhen a gym is required, it is desirable to have two gymnasiums. With two gyms, the freshmen team can play at the same time as the junior varsity game.

Conference officials also look at what's best for the greater good of all the conference teams, when deciding if a new team will be allowed to join.

There also is a provision for the Minnesota State High School League to place a school into a conference, if the school has gone through the application process and been rejected.

The conference in which a team belongs is especially important in a physical sport such as football.

Larger schools have more students available to field their teams, and may have more depth of players, and players with greater physical strength.

Scoblic said that being part of the Tri-Valley Conference has been great as far as metro newspaper coverage, but it's best to play against schools of similar size.

"Being part of the TVC has been wonderful, as far as the working relationship between schools and athletic directors," Kuehl said.

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