JACKSON — Jackson City Schools are hoping that they have found an athletic conference to call home.
Jackson City Schools Superintendent Phil Howard, High School Principal Joe Hemsley and Athletic Director Bob Kight traveled to Miami Trace High School on Friday, Feb. 5, to make a presentation to the South Central Ohio League (SCOL) for admission to their athletic conference. The league is made up of Chillicothe, Greenfield, Washington Court House, Miami Trace, Hillsboro, Wilmington, Clinton-Massie and East Clinton.
According to Howard, the district sent a letter of application on Dec. 28, 2015 and were invited to come and give a presentation to the superintendents, principals, and athletic directors of all of the eight schools represented by the SCOL.
“We were provided with an opportunity to make a pitch as to what we have to offer that would warrant them accepting us into their league,” said Howard. “We gave a powerpoint presentation highlighting our facilities, and spoke at length about our history and our supportive community. We also fielded and answered questions from their administrators and then were given the opportunity to pose questions of our own concerning how their league operates and what we could expect from them as a member school.”
Administrators believe the SCOL is a good fit for their district in terms of the size of the schools in that conference.
“Chillicothe and Wilmington are both larger than us and Court House, Miami Trace and Hillsboro are pretty much our size,” Howard explained. “There would definitely be some travel involved if they decide to accept us, but some creative scheduling, such as making sure the teams that are farthest apart play games on the weekends, could make this a good fit. The fact that most of the travel is on a four-lane highway (US 35) is also a big plus,” Howard explained.
Howard said that the SCOL told them that they are looking to expand to at least 10 teams or maybe even 12. If that happens then the league would be split into two divisions, which would cut down a lot on the travel. Jackson already has a relationship with five of the eight schools and currently play several of them in several sports.
“We are doing everything we can to try to find a league for our athletes to participate in,” Howard said. “Not being a part of a conference has a lot of negative consequences in terms of scheduling and travel, as well as recognition for our student athletes and the ability to play for league championships.
“It would also have a serious negative financial impact on our athletic budget as we would be forced to travel long distances to find competition or pay schools to travel long distances to come here and play,” Howard added.
He went on to say that schools traveling such long distances likely would not bring much of a fan base in order to offset expenses. “The trickle down effect would be that our boosters who rely on the sale of concessions at our contests would also take a hit as attendance would probably drop dramatically,” Howard feared.
“I would say that based on how well things went with our presentation and upon hearing some of the concerns of their member schools that we are cautiously optimistic about being accepted. We feel like we have left no stone unturned at this point. All we can do now is sit back, wait and keep our fingers crossed,” Howard said.
“We were told that they were going to have a discussion after our presentation and that a formal vote will be taken on March 7. It is our understanding that we need to get approval of at least seven of the eight schools in order to gain admission. If we are accepted we would not start league competition until at least the fall of 2017 as the schedule is already completed for the 2016 – 2017 school year,” said Howard.