The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, Apr. 12, 2024

Amid changes, future NWC plans unknown

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

LEIPSIC — It’s a decision that surprised a lot of followers of area high school athletics and it could have somewhat of a ripple effect in the near future.

During a five minute special meeting held Sunday afternoon, the Leipsic Local Schools Board of Education voted to withdraw from the Northwest Conference, then accepted an invitation to rejoin the Blanchard Valley Conference.

Minutes from the board meeting show the vote was unanimous, 5-0. The minutes also show Leipsic plans to leave the NWC prior to the 2024-2025 school year and join the BVC the same year. However, high school athletic director Joe Kirkendall said the final decision as to when to leave will be made after conversations with the NWC.

“The changes that have taken place to both the Northwest Conference and especially to the Blanchard Valley Conference have led our athletic council and school board to believe that the BVC would be a better fit for Leipsic athletes going forward,” Kirkendall said. “This decision was not made lightly, but after receiving an official invitation from the BVC, there was extensive conversation.”

The Vikings joined the NWC during the 2021-2022 school year as a replacement for Paulding, who left for the Green Meadows Conference. Leipsic had been a member of the BVC for football since 1965 and for all sports since 1971, but the decision to move was made amid concerns about the stability and future of the conference.

“It all came down to solidifying a conference for the athletes of Leipsic presently and for the long term, especially for football,” then-Leipsic athletic director Gary Kleinbrink said.

Current members of the BVC are Arcadia, Arlington, Cory-Rawson, Liberty-Benton, McComb, North Baltimore, Pandora-Gilboa, Riverdale, Van Buren and Vanlue.

It appears the BVC is in a state of flux, with some notable changes in the works. North Baltimore announced in November of 2021 plans to leave for the Northwest Central Conference in 2023. In December of 2021, Cory-Rawson voted to leave the conference for the Northwest Central Conference, also in 2023. In May of last year, the BVC and Liberty-Benton announced the Eagles will leave the conference after the 2025-2026 school year. Elmwood will join the conference in 2023 and Ada recently voted to withdraw from the NWC and join the BVC, but the timeline is undetermined.

In addition to those moves, the BVC governing board voted in December of last year to remove the Vanlue football program from the conference, effective with the 2023-2024 school year.

With the pending departures of Ada and now Leipsic, the NWC will be left with seven members – Allen East, Bluffton, Columbus Grove, Crestview, Delphos Jefferson, Spencerville and Lincolnview, the only conference school to not field a football team.

While there’s plenty of speculation and rumors about local realignment, it’s not known what course of action, if any, the NWC may take. Commissioner Jon Derryberry did not respond to a request for comment.

POSTED: 05/24/23 at 3:43 am. FILED UNDER: Sports