March 24, 2005 at 8:50 a.m.
“It’s been a large undertaking,” smiled Aadland, Chisago Lakes Activities Director. “Ten schools, everyone trying to agree on things. We spend a lot of time talking about how the conference is going to look, even down to the end of the year awards like all-conference. It’s unbelievable the things that need to happen to make it work.”
“A lot of meetings,” added Leuer. “The process is going well. We meet about once a month. The big issues are getting all of the coaches together by sport. The fall and winter activities are set and most of the spring ones are done but not all. Plus we have to finalize our budget and things like that. There are just a lot of little things.
“One of the biggest challenges for us here at North Branch is that we get out of school later than everyone else in the conference. So, we’re going to do a little tweaking. It’s not going to be bad because now we don’t have to travel through the city of North Branch and then Cambridge. That took 40 minutes of travel time for us to do that in the past. Now we just have to hit the freeway and go south. So it’s a good thing but it takes some time to discuss issues like that.”
To recap, the biggest decisions have already been made. Starting this fall, both Chisago Lakes and North Branch will compete in the North Suburban conference for the first time. They will be joined by eight other schools: Irondale, Cooper, Spring Lake Park, St. Louis Park, St. Francis, Totino-Grace, Benilde-St. Margaret’s and Fridley.
The Wildcats and Vikings are leaving the Rum River, a home they’ve shared since the early 80’s. Both schools follow St. Michael-Albertville, Big Lake and Princeton. All three schools announced they were leaving the Rum last March and joining their own conference- the Mississippi Eight.
Now with the upcoming season less than six months away, both the Wildcats and Vikings are concentrating on their new beginning with new opponents, new cities, new everything. However, it also brings new problems.
“You have teams from four different conferences and they don’t really like things to change,” remarked Aadland. “It would be easy for us and North Branch to go into the North Suburban and adopt all of their policies, but you now also have teams from the Lake conference and the Metro Alliance. The more teams, the more things need to be discussed to make sure everyone agrees with the direction things are going.”
Still, everyone agrees the headaches are going to be worth it.
“We’re excited,” commented Aadland. “We’re looking forward to the new challenges. Our coaches have been terrific. They’re all really looking forward to the change. We all agree this is a good thing. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it.”
-Even though the 2005-06 North Suburban conference is set, that doesn’t mean there won’t be more changes coming. Columbia Heights, one of the four teams left from the Metro Alliance when it broke up, believes they may be placed into the North Suburban for the 2006-07 season. That will give the conference 11 teams.
-As for the Rum River, after losing five teams, they are forging ahead with a five-team conference. As of right now, next fall, the Rum will consist of Pine City, Foley, Mora, Milaca and Zimmerman. However, numbers are becoming more and more of a problem for the Rum. This spring alone, Pine City will not field a ninth-grade baseball team due to the lack of kids, and Foley might not have a JV team. Schools like Pierz and Little Falls have been rumored to be in the mix as possible additions to the conference in the future.
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