Who's your favorite school in the new Trailblazer Conference?
Nebraska City, Platteview, Plattsmouth, Ralston, Beatrice and Wahoo High Schools released a joint statement Monday, detailing their intent to leave the Eastern Midlands, Nebraska Capitol and River Cities conferences to form the new academic and athletic league. Five of the schools have already voted to leave their conferences for the new league — which will begin competition in 2020-21 — while Wahoo is expected to make it official this coming Monday, according to a report by Hunter Arterburn for the News Channel Nebraska Network. All schools will remain in their current conferences for the 2019-20 school year.
Now, we could tease the schools about their new conference's name — though it was named “Trailblazer” to reference Nebraska's history and the conference's future — but we also need to realize the ramifications of this move. Nebraska City and Plattsmouth are currently in Blair's Eastern Midlands Conference (EMC), while Platteview and Wahoo call the Nebraska Capitol Conference (NCC) home.
Who else is in the NCC you ask? Arlington and Fort Calhoun.
I should note that these moves aren't a complete shock — even to me. We first read a Beatrice Daily Sun report in April, which detailed some of the schools up for conference realignment. I reached out to administrators from all three Washington County schools and received a statement back from Blair Supt. Randy Gilson, which I printed in our newspapers.
“Increases and decreases in enrollment causes schools across Nebraska each year to change conference affiliations,” he wrote. “Changing enrollments could affect EMC Conference schools. This may result in schools leaving the EMC or requesting to join. We are very interested in remaining in the EMC Conference and look forward to solutions to keep conference membership strong.”
Brent Hardin of The Plattsmouth Journal put in hard work, which he always does, and took down some new quotes for a story about the Blue Devils' move just this week.
“The students and families we serve have a great deal in common,” Springfield Platteview Community Schools Supt. Brett Richards told Hardin. “We believe the Trailblazer Conference will open new opportunities to collaborate from students to senior district leadership.”
“From activities and fine arts to academics, middle school competition and professional development, we envision a new level of collaboration,” Edwards said.
Further comments agreed upon by the six Trailblazer Conference schools made the statement released Monday. They were in a Q&A format:
Why are we moving to the Trailblazer Conference?
“Each school community saw an opportunity to realign with an even better fit than what we enjoyed before. Members districts see strong similarities in the communities we serve — in the size of our schools, our demographics, and in our philosophies for what a conference can achieve.”
What did you have against your previous conference?
“In short, nothing. We enjoyed our time in the current conference. This type of opportunity comes once in a great while to establish something even stronger from the ground up. It's not about leaving our past conferences — but building something new.”
So, good news EMC and NCC schools. Its not you, its them.
I joke, but this will lead to serious work for area officials and will surely be interesting to follow as we move closer to 2020-21. Again, all will remain the same during the 2019-20 school year.
There are a few more details I should note, though — and thanks, again, to News Channel Nebraska and The Plattsmouth Journal for the info. Gretna wrapped up its EMC inclusion this year, while a brand-new school — Elkhorn North — is expected to join the conference in 2020-21.
The NCC, meanwhile, is getting Louisville for the 2020-21 school year. Interestingly, an Ashland-Greenwood Twitter account (@GoBluejays1) welcomed the Lions on Monday night. That's interesting because Beatrice Supt. Jason Alexander referenced Ashland as a possible member of the new conference back in April during the school board meeting reported on by the Daily Sun.
I believe that covers what I've read about the Trailblazer Conference this week. Obviously, more information will be forthcoming as everyone — Blair, Fort Calhoun and Arlington included — figures out what all four of the aforementioned conferences will look like in August 2020.