West Suburban's stability stands in way of wholesale change
Glenbard West would be a perfect fit in the DuPage Valley Conference, but school officials say they have no interest in leaving the West Suburban Conference.
Paul Michna | Staff Photographer
If one paragraph summed up the frustrating combination of fluidity and stagnation among area high school conferences, it arrived within a recent community announcement issued by Glenbard District 87.
Regarding the potential move of Glenbard East from the DuPage Valley Conference to the Upstate Eight Conference, the release reads in part...
"The DVC and Upstate Eight are Glenbard East's only viable options right now. The West Suburban Conference is not interested in expansion, and there are not enough interested schools to make creation of a new conference a viable alternative. The Metro Suburban is too small for a school the size of Glenbard East."
Not much more needs to be said, but we'll give it a shot.
This column marks the third in a series of stories discussing the changing landscape of conferences affecting DuPage-area schools. At the heart of the change lies the DVC and the UEC.
To fully address the need for change, however, there must be additional willing partners.
As the above community announcement so aptly describes, willing partners simply aren't plentiful these days. Until they are, we're stuck with piecemeal changes.
Not to point fingers, but here's looking at you, West Suburban Conference members.
As the District 87 announcement notes, the Metro Suburban Conference schools are too small for Glenbard East, and there are not enough interested schools to create a new conference.
Movement in the West Suburban Conference could solve both problems, but don't hold your breath.
Divided into two seven-school divisions — Silver and Gold — the WSC, formed in the 1920s, has been a stunning model of consistency since realigning into its current state in 1986. At that time the WSC expanded to 14 schools while absorbing members of the Des Plaines Valley League.
Amazing stability over 25 years helps make the WSC one of the state's elite leagues.
At the same time it's a source of frustration. The WSC has the perfect combination of schools of varying sizes: from Hinsdale South's 1,700 students to Morton's 8,000.
Blend the WSC schools with those of the DVC, UEC and Metro Suburban, and now you're looking at truly necessary change. There's something for everybody, especially mid-sized schools like Glenbard East trapped in no man's land.
Still, you can't blame the WSC for sticking to its field. Glenbard West would be the perfect candidate for the DVC — many in Glen Ellyn even acknowledge it — but in the end there's no reason to leave the WSC.
In across-the-board competitiveness the WSC is right there with the DVC, albeit with the advantage of six more schools. Geographically it's nearly ideal with 15 miles spanning north and south, 18 miles west to east.
The historic rivalries can't be underestimated with Glenbard West, Downers North, Hinsdale Central and others representing decades of head-to-head competition.
Why would Glenbard West — or most of the other schools, for that matter — leave the WSC? Good question.
"I think it's completely valid for schools to look at their options, but for us it's not really an issue," said Glenbard West athletic director Joe Kain. "We're happy where we're at. There's a tremendous amount of pride and tradition in the conference."
In recent years intrepid souls have tried prying away members of the West Suburban Conference.
A potential league including Glenbard South, Glenbard East, West Chicago, Addison Trail, Willowbrook and others nearly came to fruition a handful of years ago, but the parties ultimately couldn't come together.
It's a shame.
Bringing in options from the West Suburban Conference opens a slew of opportunities for everyone from Kane County to Cook County. The WSC, however, remains stoically satisfied as is.
If the WSC won't expand, and certainly won't dissolve, and if the Metro Suburban's too small, where is Glenbard East supposed to place itself?
It's a situation faced by too many area schools that really could make something happen if they banded together.
You can't help but admire a league like the West Suburban Conference for its tradition, success and stability.
A little jealousy is understandable, too.
Follow Kevin on Twitter @kevin_schmit
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