By: Nate Calvin
The winds of possible change continue to swirl around the NWOAL as Evergreen became the latest school to consider a move.
Last month, the Swanton School Board was presented with a plan for the Bulldogs to exit the NWOAL and form a new league. Archbold, Bryan, Liberty Center, Patrick Henry, and Wauseon have all reaffirmed their commitment to the league in recent weeks.
Last night at the monthly meeting of the Evergreen School Board, Superintendent Eric Smola detailed the reasoning for the proposed move to members of the board.
The NWOAL was established in 1926 with Evergreen joining in 1969 while also competing in the Northern Border League (NBL) before leaving the NWOAL entirely in 1971.
The NBL was dissolved entirely in 1978 at which point Evergreen was absorbed back into the NWOAL.
“A few years ago, we changed our mission statement to: Building on Tradition; Committed to Excellence; Cultivating the Future”. I think it’s time to apply these to our athletics”, said Smola has he began his presentation.
“There are three reasons we need to consider a move at this time with those being Evergreen’s NWOAL history, student athlete success, and current league movement.”
“We want our athletes to have a chance at success on the athletic field. They should have a 50% chance of winning their contests.” Currently we have a 3.6% success rate with 22 league titles in our 45-year history in the NWOAL”, he stated.
“That is the fewest in the league and we have developed a reputation of not being competitive.”
Enrollment numbers are also a factor. Evergreen’s 2020-21 K-12 total enrollment is 1100, which is sixth among league schools. Smola went on to point out that the district is seeing declining numbers in lower grades.
“The obvious question is why now”, Smola continued. “There are membership changes in area leagues that will have a significant impact on the NWOAL.”
“Swanton is seeking approval to leave the NWOAL, creating an opening. It is very likely the opening would be filled with a school larger than Evergreen.”
Smola mentioned that Napoleon and Bowling Green of the Northern Lakes League have inquired about possible joining the league.
“This may be Evergreen’s only chance to make a move before being locked in on the bottom for another 45 years. We are looking into this to be proactive, not reactive”, he added.
“Evergreen has the ability to control its own destiny, compete against comparable sized schools with equivalent athletic programs, and have more evenly matched athletic competitions”, explained Smola.
Evergreen has currently had discussions with Swanton, Delta, Ottawa Hills, Northwood, Montpelier, and Edon (football only) about the formation of a new league. Smola stated that everything is in the discussion phase and no decisions have been made.
Evergreen’s enrollment of 1100 would place them third with the a forementioned schools with Swanton having the largest at 1135.
“By making this move we improve the potential for winning contests and league championships for our athletes.”
“Winning equals positive attitudes and improved climate; increased student and spectator participation; instill Viking Pride among student athletes, student body and community; create a more competitive and winning culture throughout the district while continuing to play neighboring districts through non-league contests.”
“We have to weigh tradition vs. reality when it comes to doing what’s best for our students”, Smola closed.
There will be a NWOAL Community Forum on Monday, March 29th, 2021 at 7pm in the high school gym for community members to share their opinions.
Questions and comments to be addressed in the forum can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nate can be reached at email@example.com