It is a good thing that Yellow Medicine East wrestlers are reportedly happy to have paired with Renville County West and MACCRAY school districts to form the Quad County wrestling squad, because it looks as if Sting students may be seeing more collaboration.
Last week, YME school board members went ahead with a recommendation from Athletic Director Tim Knapper to form an ad hoc committee to explore additional pairing options with Renville County West in football and perhaps other non-athletic programming, as well.
The cooperative efforts between the schools is largely driven by declining enrollment numbers. At present, the drop in student athletes has been more crippling to RCW, but the fear is that YME may not be too many more years away from finding itself in the same boat.
“Three or four more years from now and we’re going to be in a very similar place,” said Knapper. “If we close ourselves off right now our ability to be self-reliant with future decision making may be put in jeopardy.”
Last year the topic of pairing of the two football was also broached. However, it was never given serious thought due to Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) rules that would have moved the cooperative up a class alongside larger schools and far tougher competition.
This year changes to MSHSL policy appear to clear this concern from the table, offering an opportunity to the schools to gain exemption from this clause, which Knapper believes the schools would be all but sure to receive.
“If we don’t qualify to stay in Class 2A, it doesn’t seem that anybody would,” he said. “Pairing is much more intriguing this year as opposed to last.”
School board members Grant Velde and Steve Rupp both spoke out in favor of the exploration committee, in part because of how well the Quad County situation has gone.
“I don’t think one kid out there would say he didn’t like it or he wasn’t having expectations met,” said Rupp.
“I think, personally, it can only give our kids more opportunities,” noted Velde.
Wishing to express concerns she has heard aired by parents, board member Dawn Odegard commented that there has been a significant amount of flack about the Sting to Quad County name change. This, Knapper acknowledged, but also pointed out, “I know [RCW] doesn’t just want to be absorbed.”
Whatever happens will likely happen relatively fast, as Knapper said a decision on the issue could come as soon as fall. The committee itself would be compiled by the athletic director and made up of a variety of different individuals from parents to coaches to school board members.
Page 2 of 2 - Knapper said the act was somewhat preemptive, but also noted that the proactive approach would likely pay dividends if and when the rubber meets the road.
According to the Renville County Register, RCW has also formed a similar committee.
Background on the
current Quad County wrestling cooperative:
The wrestling agreement itself identifies YME as the host district for the cooperative. The majority of expenses for the program are split three ways except transportation to practice and costs of "home" matches. Transportation expenses to and from practices are the responsibility of MACCRAY and RCW districts, with each district responsible for transporting their student athletes to YME for practices.
When MACCRAY, RCW, or YME host a “home” match, the host district is responsible for payment of referees and other personnel necessary to stage the event. The host district is also responsible for the provision of concessions. The host will keep the gate for the event and concession revenues are not covered under the provision of the agreement. Host districts are responsible for any shortages of “home” events.