So now what?
Now that the Metro Suburban Conference has accepted West Chicago High School's application to join its league? Now that the DuPage Valley Conference is soon to be a school short of its traditional eight-school arrangement?
Now that the dominoes are about to start falling?
It's a series of questions that began swirling following a Sept. 10 special meeting of the Community High School District 94 Board of Education. At that meeting the board members voted 4-3 in favor of West Chicago applying to the Metro Suburban Conference and, upon acceptance, beginning the withdrawal process from the DVC.
The decision was not surprising considering the widely known desire for West Chicago to leave the DVC. The surprise was that action finally came after many, many years of talk.
The move, which could take two years depending on enforcement of DVC bylaws, is a no-brainer caused by decades of struggling to win in the ultracompetitive DVC. According to statistics provided by West Chicago, the boys athletic programs finished last in the overall conference standings 25 out of the last 37 years while the girls finished last 24 times.
Neither the boys nor the girls ever finished above fifth in the overall conference standings.
The days of enduring as the second-smallest school in the DVC will end as West Chicago becomes the largest MSC school by nearly 800 students. Success no doubt will follow for the Wildcats, although snagging titles from Glenbard South, Riverside-Brookfield and others won't be easy.
But that's a discussion for down the road. Of more immediate concern is what now happens with the DVC.
The conference Board of Control met on Wednesday to discuss the issue. Board President and Wheaton Warrenville South Principal David Claypool said a committee of DVC principals, athletic directors and activity directors was established -- with each of the seven remaining DVC schools represented -- to determine the criteria for selecting a replacement.
Claypool added that it's too early to determine a timeline for completing the selection process. Much of the preliminary work, however, may already be done.
In 2010 when West Chicago's departure looked imminent, the DVC sent out feelers to gauge interest from area schools in joining -- and possibly expanding -- the league. Only a handful of schools responded favorably, which makes you wonder who'd be interested two years later.
It's no secret Lake Park is one of the prime candidates for the DVC. Lake Park was a candidate for the spot vacated by Glenbard South that eventually went to West Aurora in 1997.
Unencumbered by additional district schools, Lake Park is a one-high school entity that holds no ties to anyone else. Leaving the Upstate Eight Conference might disrupt some rivalries, but the Lancers could play those rivals in nonconference play.
That's one of the problems with adding any of the District 204 schools. True, Neuqua Valley might be an exciting option, but would the Wildcats really leave behind sister schools Waubonsie Valley and Metea Valley?
Unless the DVC plans on expansion, the District 204 option is dicey.
Glenbard West is another clear choice, although far less likely an option despite the many advantages. Size-wise the Hilltoppers make sense as a school in the 2,200-student range, closer in size to the Wheatons and Glenbard East.
Not sure those relatively smaller schools would react too joyously about Neuqua Valley's 4,100 students joining the DVC fray. Lake Park's enrollment of about 2,800 is large, but at least it falls in line with conference mainstays Glenbard East and Glenbard North.
Another advantage for Glenbard West is its ideal proximity to the majority of DVC schools. Three Glenbard District 87 schools would be united in the process, and Glenbard West would form a natural bond with fellow original DuPage County schools Naperville Central and Wheaton Warrenville South.
Historic bonds, however, are among the reasons leaving the West Suburban Conference's Silver Division might be too difficult for Glenbard West. It'd be like pulling teeth extracting the Hilltoppers away from Silver rivals like Downers Grove North, Hinsdale Central, York and Lyons Twp.
Many other schools, including Bolingbrook and Downers Grove South, have popped up in conversation, while some folks have mentioned Glenbard East and West Aurora may be interested in leaving the DVC if another opportunity arises.
But what, exactly, is that opportunity? And what is the endgame to the falling dominoes?
Right now the ball's in the DVC's collective court. We'll see where it bounces from there.
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