1/22/2013 8:39:00 PM I-8 meets with Streator as potential member
Marney Simon Staff writer
The Bulldogs of Streator Township High School are considering asking the schools of the Interstate Eight to take them in.
The makeup of the Interstate Eight Conference will change in two years. But leaders throughout the conference, which represents Reed-Custer, Wilmington, Coal City and others, are on the path to keeping the conference even.
Reed-Custer High School principal Tim Ricketts updated the members of the Board of Education last week on the possibility of adding Streator to the I-8. Ricketts said the I-8 Ad-Hoc Conference Committee, made up of three principals and five athletic directors from the conference, met with representatives from Streator High School on Jan. 16.
The conference will lose Dwight as a member after next year. But Ricketts noted that despite a rapidly moving rumor mill, the talks with Streator were just that so far - talks. A movement to add any school is still in the future. That said, Ricketts said the meeting was encouraging.
"They are very interested in our conference, and we are very excited about having a public school... contact us," Ricketts said. "The major concerns would be their size."
As opposed to many of the schools in the I-8, Streator's student population is in the 800s. That's more than twice the size of the exiting Dwight. Streator's overall population tops 13,000, more than twice the size of Braidwood.
"But we've competed against their schools, even one of our smallest schools, Seneca, has competed against them and can compete," Ricketts said. "It's not a big school versus little school."
Ricketts said that when a conference loses a small school like Dwight, with only 300 students, and adds a school like Streator with 800 students, the conference needs to look at each sport individually and see what is best for the student athletes.
A bigger issue may be travel. Streator sits at the crossroads of Routes 23 and 18, straddling the LaSalle and Livingston County lines. The high school is roughly 42 miles from Braidwood, but sits even farther for other conference teams such as Westmont and Peotone.
"Those are things that we realize that we may have to tackle as a conference," Ricketts noted.
Ricketts also said Streator would be bound to give their current conference two year's notice to leave, which could work out well for the departure of Dwight.
Overall, Ricketts said that while the talks are preliminary, Streator would be a good addition to the I-8.
"Their athletics are very comparable," Ricketts noted. "They do have tennis teams, bowling teams and a dance team, that's really the only thing that our conference doesn't offer athletically. Co-curricular, they do not have but they have been discussing a speech and a math team."
The current conference is made up of 12 teams: Reed-Custer, Dwight, Wilmington, Coal City, Plano, Sandwich, Seneca, Lisle, Manteno, Peotone, Westmont and Herscher. Last fall, the School Board at Dwight voted to accept an invitation to join the Sangamon Valley Conference starting with the 2014-2015 school year.