Six schools announce split from North Suburban Conference

Namrata Sridhar, Ideas Manager

For the last 19 years, Stevenson athletic teams have been a part of the North Suburban Conference (NSC), which is comprised of 14 schools in the North Suburban area. However, six of the schools are planning a split in the upcoming years which may cause changes for the athletic teams’ schedule.

The NSC was originally created with two divisions: the Lakes division and the Prairie division. The majority of the Lakes division schools were larger in size, while the Prairie division schools generally had a smaller number of students. The purpose of the two divisions was to ensure that all students would get an equal chance to compete in their school’s athletic program.

As of the 2016-2017 school year, the Prairie division will split from the NSC and create their own conference. The new conference will also include two Grayslake schools: Central and North High School, Dr. Eric Twadell, District 125 Superintendent, said. The remaining part of the NSC will absorb all of the Lakes division as well as Vernon Hills High School, which had previously been on the Prairie division of the conference. The conference will continue to be called the NSC.

For the past few years, Grayslake schools have been trying to join the Lake County Conference, Dr. Catherine Finger, District 127 Superintendent, said. Currently, the Grayslake Community High School District 127 participates in in the Fox Valley Conference. Some of the schools are far apart, with some travel times exceeding two hours one way. By competing within the Lake County, it will greatly reduce travel times for families and athletes and provide relief for the students and their families as they try to cheer on their friends and family, Finger said.

“With the schools becoming a new conference that was essentially the old Prairie division, they will have the chance to find games in their own backyard in the western half of Lake County,” Twadell said.

Splitting would be the only option to allow district 117 students an equal opportunity for participation, Jim McKay, District 117 Superintendent, said. District 117 included Lakes High School and Antioch High School. Since both schools lack enough athletes to form individual teams, McKay has tried to combine certain teams from the two schools, such as the girls’ golf team. However, the NSC prohibits two high schools from forming a single team.

“The NSC is based on the needs of the schools, and the needs were not met in the interest of [our] students,” McKay said.

Since Stevenson is a part of the Lakes division not Praire, there will not be many major changes to the competition. One exception will be the elimination of the crossover games that the athletic department currently schedules with the Prairie division, Twadell said.

Not only will Stevenson no longer play conference games with the Prairie division, the end of the year conference championships and invitationals in some sports will no longer last two days as they have in the past, Athletic Director Trish Betthauser said. Student athletes will be playing less competitions during the championships or invitationals, allowing them to miss only one day of class as opposed to the former two days.

As a way to reunite with other athletic directors, non-conference games with the Prairie division may be scheduled in the near future however nothing is guaranteed. While the NSC will be splitting up in the 2016-2017 school year, the changes made will not drastically change the athletic program at the Stevenson Athletic Department, Betthauser said.