Fenton jumping to Upstate Eight Conference
Fenton athletic director Todd Becker was at Phillips Park Golf Course in Aurora, watching the Bison win the Metro Suburban Conference Red Division boys golf championship, when the news broke.
Pending approval by the Fenton Community High School District 100 Board of Education, Bison golf -- and football, chess, math, volleyball and all other Fenton sports and activities -- will take their talents to the Upstate Eight Conference next school year.
Acting in the wake of West Aurora's impending move to the Southwest Prairie Conference, on Monday the UEC Board of Directors accepted Fenton's presentation to join the conference in 2019-20 and remain a group of 10.
"We are excited, the coaches, that is," Becker said Wednesday. "Finally we're going to have a conference for some of our sports, for (such sports as) boys volleyball, badminton, swimming, that the Metro Suburban didn't have for some of these sports."
On Sept. 20 Fenton, Kaneland, DeKalb and Riverside-Brookfield made presentations at South Elgin High School, whose principal, Brian Moran, is president of the UEC Board of Control.
"Following the presentation the Upstate Eight Board of Directors had a discussion about each of the schools and we informed the schools on Monday the 24th that the board's vote was for Fenton High School to replace West Aurora beginning with next school year," Moran said.
The UEC's impetus was to remain a closed conference to ease scheduling.
"They were going to select either one or three to keep it at an even number," Becker said.
Kaneland, now in the Northern Illinois Big 12, in 2019-20 will at least temporarily join several fellow NIB 12 members and current Interstate Eight schools in a revamped Interstate Eight. DeKalb has also been linked to the DuPage Valley Conference, which has only five members.
"We are open to expansion," Moran said. "At this point, in terms of scheduling events for next year because assigners are already working on some of those schedules, each of the schools kind of had a different board process for approval. For the stability of the Upstate Eight Conference, we voted to bring in just one school and that is Fenton."
Moran said the possibility of expansion would be discussed at the October Board of Directors meeting. Further expansion would occur no earlier than in the 2020-21 school year, he said.
"We certainly remain interested in DeKalb, Kaneland and Riverside-Brookfield," Moran said. "If we decide to expand past 10, those would be the three schools we would have conversations with moving forward. We didn't put a deadline on it. There are certainly some (UEC) schools that are more interested in expansion than others and that is part of the conversation."
Like many schools, Fenton is part of a constantly shifting tide of conference realignments over the past decade. Formerly in the Suburban Prairie Conference, in 2006 the Bensenville school became one of four charter members of the Metro Suburban Conference. The MSC now stands at 15, including girls-only Rosary.
"It's a lot better than when we had four schools in the conference, that's for sure," Becker said. "We've enjoyed our time in the Metro Suburban."