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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Sheldon says goodbye to Lakes Conference

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The closest lake to Sheldon is about a 50 mile jog across Highway 18 and up Highway 71.

So perhaps it's not surprising that Sheldon will be leaving the Lakes Conference at the end of the current school year and joining the Siouxland Conference beginning next fall.

While the distance to a lake wasn't necessarily a factor, the distance to compete with other schools in the conference was.

Sheldon Athletic Director Darrell Sneiderman explained that within the Siouxland Conference, the Orabs will face six schools within 25 miles of Sheldon, whereas the closest Lakes Conference opponents were Western Christian (18 miles) and Le Mars (36 miles). The other schools are all more than 45 miles from Sheldon.

"Basically the time out of school and the cost of transportation at the time and what they are predicting [for future transportation costs] are the main reasons," Sneiderman said.

While this decision appears wise for the Sheldon school district, the departure of the Orabs from the Lakes Conference cuts out one of the shorter road trips for Le Mars Community Schools in future athletic seasons.

"We had to redo all our schedules for 2009-10 and 2010-11," LCS Activity Director Floyd Athay said. "All those schedules were redone and we did have officiating crews hired for basketball, so we did some shuffling around. We had to let eight crews go for the 2010 baseball season."

"It created a lot of paper work and a lot of time was spent on revamping [the schedules]," Athay continued. "It also creates at least one more opening for basketball."

The trip from Le Mars to Sheldon is 36 miles one way, making the Orabs one of the Bulldogs' three closest league opponents. Western Christian in Hull is a 30-mile drive and Cherokee is about 35 miles.

LCS' longest road trip in league play is just over 100 miles one way - to play Estherville-Lincoln Central.

"I wouldn't be opposed to [shorter trips] either," head boys basketball coach Dave Irwin said. "It's not ideal to go play Emmetsburg or Estherville on a Tuesday night and then get back at midnight or one in the morning. It's not the best situation for student athletes. I think we are going to see a lot more schools exploring [the idea of changing conferences] for reasons like that."

Sneiderman related an example of a parent who was not quite convinced that a conference switch was the best idea.

"One parent said she wasn't really sold on the idea until she got home at midnight from Storm Lake on a Tuesday night," Sneiderman said. "Until you experience that, it's pretty difficult."

Despite the conference switch, Sheldon and Le Mars will still meet up nearly every season.

Football is not really affected, as the two schools are in different districts and classes and the season is set up differently than other sports.

Other than that, Bulldog fans can expect to renew rivalries with Sheldon in future seasons.

"We have tried to keep them for one game a year on all of our varsity sports that we possibly can," Athay said. "We were unable to keep them on for volleyball."

But basketball, wrestling and baseball are some of the sports where the schools will still face one another.

"Sheldon [and Le Mars] have developed a natural rivalry," Athay said. "We hope to continue that with them by playing single non-conference games in the future."

Irwin said that losing Sheldon from the conference is more than just losing a relatively short road trip.

"You lose a quality school like Sheldon, where they seem to be competitive in everything we play them in," he said. "It affects the overall quality of our conference because of what they've brought to the conference the last few years."

Sneiderman echoed the difficulty of leaving the Lakes Conference.

"For the coaches and myself included, it is tough to leave the Lakes because we have had such a great experience and rivalries within the conference," he said.

But Athay and the Bulldogs' coaches wish Sheldon the best as they join the Siouxland Conference next fall.

"Overall, it is probably a good move for them," Athay said. "They're going to get into a conference that is predominantly 2A and their travel is going to be cut. So overall I certainly understand their reason for moving to the Siouxland [Conference]."

If you need info for a breaking box to fill some space, here are the schools currently in each of the two conferences:

Lakes Conference:

Le Mars, Sheldon, Emmetsburg, Estherville-Lincoln Central, Spencer, Storm Lake, Spirit Lake, Cherokee, Western Christian.

Siouxland Conference:

Sioux Center, Okoboji, West Lyon, Central Lyon, George-Little Rock, Boyden-Hull, Rock Valley, MOC-Floyd Valley, Sibley-Ocheyedan, Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn (which will be switching to the War Eagle Conference in 2009-10).

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see ya

-- Posted by wchsfan on Mon, Jan 19, 2009, at 11:17 PM

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