Smith-Cotton athletics will likely be without a conference starting with the 2018-19 school year.
The West Central Conference includes seven teams; Warrensburg, Center, St. Pius X, Nevada, Clinton, O’Hara and S-C. Warrensburg, St. Pius X, and Nevada have given notice that they will be leaving the WCC starting 2018-2019 school year, leaving only O’Hara, Center, S-C and Clinton in the partial conference, but Clinton officials have stated they would rather be independent than part of a smaller WCC. With this, it appears S-C will also become independent in 2018-2019 if other independent schools aren’t willing to help build a new conference with them.
S-C Athletic Director Rob Davis is searching for schools willing to help build a new conference or let S-C join theirs.
“We have looked into joining other conferences but to be accepted, the conference you are looking at has to have a need for a school or believe you to be an exceptional fit.” Davis said. “We have not been able to find a conference that we would be a good fit for. We have also contacted other independent schools to inquire about forming a new conference but so far, none are interested.”
Davis said that despite conference independence, WCC rival Warrensburg is an expected opponent in future football seasons, continuing the annual Silver Tiger Trophy game.
Ethan Weller, S-C Boys Soccer head coach, believes there are some drawbacks if S-C loses conference affiliation.
“The conference allows our programs to have a goal other than the end result of a District or State title, which is not always realistic for all programs.” Weller said. “ My first couple years as a head coach, our ultimate goal was to win the WCC because the players knew they didn’t match up with the District teams. Players aren’t dumb, they know when they can compete and when they can’t. Coaches can’t fool players into believing they have a shot at a district or state title unless the players truly feel they have a shot.”
Weller believes athletes who can’t be recognized for district or state will be cut out of recognition completely without the All-Conference designation. He also believes that not having the goal of winning a conference championship will make the coaches’ and players’ jobs much harder.
“The conference often keeps players focused and prepared because they are playing with a purpose, the purpose of winning a championship.” Weller said, “Now they are going to be playing with the purpose of a more long-term goal which is being prepared for districts.”
Maddy Kindle, a senior at S-C, has played softball throughout high school and has been honored as an All-Conference player. She said losing the WCC is very disappointing.
“Upcoming athletes aren’t going to get the chance to compete to win conference and because there’s no end goal, won’t put work and drive into their sport because they won’t feel it’s worth anything.” Kindle said. “They won’t put their time into it and sincerely love and enjoy their sport because they won’t be getting rewarded for their accomplishments.”
Kindle said some of the best times of her life were competing with her teammates, saying, “Nothing can replace those memories.”
Davis is already scheduling games for the 2018-2019 school year to ensure S-C athletes have opponents to play and a schedule to fit athletic programs’ needs.
“At this time, we are planning on being independent but will also continue to look for a fit with another conference.” Davis said. “There is also the possibility down the road that other independents will reconsider and help us form a new conference. At the time, that is not the case.”
Haily Zaremba is a student at Smith-Cotton High School.