LaVille’s window of opportunity to join new conference
LAPAZ — LaVille Athletic Director Will Hostrawser presented Union-North School Board members with a proposal sent to him by Culver Athletic Director Andy Thomas to join a new conference.
There has been an abrupt change in LaVille’s current Northern State Conference with the departure of Culver Community and Knox. According to Hostrawser, the newly-proposed conference is spearheaded by Culver after the school was denied entry into the Midwest Conference.
Hostrawser was given until Aug. 30 to decide if LaVille would join the proposed conference, which would include Caston, Pioneer, Winamac, Culver Community, Knox and North Judson, which are all similar in size to LaVille with the exception of Knox.
Hostrawser attended the NSC Board meeting where Knox and Culver schools formally resigned. Their resignation will transition within a two-year time frame according to the NSC conference bi-laws.
As a way to determine the potential option of transitioning to a new conference, Hostrawser held a meeting with the coaching staff on Aug. 21. Every single coach present in the meeting approved, accepting the proposed conference according to Hostrawser.
Students at LaVille were also given a survey to determine their stance on potentially switching conferences. A lunch-time poll of students demonstrated the majority of students were in favor of the proposed conference.
“In talking to kids over the past week, there’s a perception of we have a chance, a perception of ‘hey the field is leveled (if the new conference was accepted),” said Hostrawser.
The coaches meeting and student responses were followed up with an NSC Board meeting the next day at Bremen to discuss the direction of the remaining NSC members. Current NSC members raised concerns with the small LaVille school size as they sometimes cannot accommodate JV, much less freshmen teams. Hostrawser also mentioned the NSC inviting two 3A schools to join the conference as the NSC Board discussed how LaVille did not fit the mold or the direction the conference seems to be headed towards.
With a week to prepare a presentation for the school board, Hostrawser attempted his best to give a well-informed presentation beginning with the factors the school corporation should consider, including the historical background of the NSC and MWC conferences, financial impact, competitiveness perception, travel distance and historical rivalries.
After briefly describing the beginnings of the Northern State and Midwest conferences, Hostrawser discussed financial impacts, emphasizing the idea “Success equals money.”
“When you win, everybody loves a winner and everyone goes out and watches,” said the LaVille AD. “To achieve success we must hire and keep good coaches.
“We must market our school and draw attention to the positive things repeatedly. We must support one another on all levels.”
All sports are important but two sports are the backbone — football and boys basketball. Hostrawser explained that at any level those two sports would remain the most important.
The AD’s presentations continued with travel distance, fuel cost and time cost as athletes would be out later on school nights at longer distances. Currently, the furthest member of the NSC is 46 miles round trip. The new conference would stretch the longest trip to 77 miles.
Untapped financial impact followed. Hostrawser brought up an advertising plan that has not been pursued by the athletic department due to time constraints. Student athletes pay $5 for each athlete transported and raising the price was considered.
Hostrawser discussed competitiveness assessment as LaVille faces large disparities with the current NSC Class 3A schools. The proposed conference offers less disparities and more competitiveness “evening out the playing field.”
“I have kids that don’t believe. I’m constantly fighting that belief, and if I can put them on the field and they can have some success,” said Hostrawser. “The problem that I’ve seen in the past here is when they get to the tournament and they’re competitive and they don’t know it, they don’t know how to win.”
Historical rivalries would remain unchanged. The schools would still be willing to schedule games with longstanding rivals. The issue is current NSC members are all considerably larger then LaVille with nothing to gain from playing LaVille. The athletic director assured new rivalries would naturally develop.
Options on the table other than accepting the proposed conference involve staying in the NSC to wait and see what happens, create a new conference with the leftovers of the NSC or going independent.
“Regardless of our direction on this matter, we must continue to make our school more attractive, to and for our students both academic and extracurricular activities.
“It’s open enrollment everywhere now, there are no boundaries on schools,” affirmed Hostrawser. “We need to decide how we’re going to attract new kids. We have to make LaVille a destination for students and teachers, this has been a stopping ground for many people; look at our turnover.”
Hostrawser’s presentation led to a passionate discussion leading the school board to determine whether or not they would need community input to comfortably make a decision. Board members will speak to community members and post a survey on their website before making a decision by Aug. 30.