North Suburban Conference to be disbanded after departure of two more schools
Earlier this year, it was announced that the North Suburban Conference (NSC) would lose three schools to the Mississippi-8 Conference––Chisago Lakes, North Branch, and St. Francis. This past month, two more schools––Robbinsdale-Cooper and St. Louis Park––made public their decision to part ways with the NSC and join the newly formed Metro West at the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year. This leaves Benilde-St. Margaret’s with no conference affiliation for the moment for the 2014-2015 school year for academic and athletic competitions.
With the departure of an additional two members, along with the three northern schools, the NSC would be left with only six schools: Benilde-St. Margaret’s, Columbia Heights, Fridley, Irondale, Spring Lake Park, and Totino-Grace, and the decision was made to disband the NSC after the 2013-2014 school year. “For the last couple years we thought about adding members if there were potential schools to add, but once there were only six member schools left and of those six a presence of diverse programming, we decided it was not in the best interest moving forward,” BSM Athletic Director Mr. Jerry Pettinger said.
Robbinsdale-Cooper decided to withdraw from the NSC this past month due to the uncertainty of the conference, as well as for competitive reasons. “The first reason for us moving was the three northern schools leaving. They were good matches for us from a competitive standpoint. And second was the conversations with the schools in the new conference and how well they continued to develop, along with the uncertainty of the North Suburban Conference beyond next year,” Cooper activities director John Oelfke said.
St. Louis Park’s departure also swayed the decision for Robbinsdale-Cooper to leave. “Knowing that St. Louis Park had a strong interest in the Metro West Conference was a factor because we knew it would again cause more uncertainty in the North Suburban, and also we would lose another school that fits us really well,” Oelfke said.
St. Louis Park is Benilde-St. Margaret’s main rival for athletic competitions and would wish to continue that rivalry if they were able to join the Metro West Conference. The Metro West Conference was formed by a collection of schools leaving from their conferences including Chanhassen and Chaska from the Missota conference, Bloomington Kennedy and Jefferson from the South Suburban, and Richfield from the Classic Suburban.
Oelfke is excited for Robbinsdale-Cooper not only from an athletic standpoint, but also the fine arts in the newly-formed Metro West conference. “I think this will be a competitive conference for us as several of the schools are very close to the make-up of Cooper which is what we were looking for. Also, the Metro West will have strong Fine Arts which is another area that we wanted to continue,” Oelfke said.
The disbandment leaves a somewhat difficult situation for BSM. “The Metro West hasn’t offered an invitation, and no conference has offered us an invitation, and I don’t expect to get one,” Mr. Pettinger said.
It will be difficult for BSM to find a new conference as a result of our recent success in sports and activities. “We will go through an application process to the Metro West Conference and see what happens,” Mr. Pettinger said.
Some factors that BSM will be looking for when applying to a new conference will be the level of play, programming, competitiveness, enrollment, and geography, according to Mr. Pettinger. Despite the challenges, BSM will not become fully independent, as boys hockey is.