story updated 4-2-19
(12-27-17) With constant changes taking place in high school athletic conferences across Ohio and the US, the Midwest Athletic Conference (MAC) and the Western Buckeye League (WBL) remain very stable.
Both conferences have shown that member schools continue to work as a group and support each other, no massive behind the scene talks about leaving or excluding a member.
Six of the eight MAC charter members remain from 1972 (Coldwater, Marion Local, Minster, New Bremen, Parkway and St. Henry).
The MAC has been a good friend to area schools when they needed it, that is when they added Ft. Recovery, New Knoxville and Mendon-Union shortly after the formation of the conference. At the time all three schools did not have football. Those three schools were added shortly after Bradford and Ansonia left. They did the same thing for Versailles when their conference blew-up and added them to the MAC when they needed a new conference home. The last addition to the MAC was football-only member Anna in 2005 to help with football scheduling, a great move for the Rockets.
One school, that is located near many MAC members, Ft. Loramie started playing varsity football shortly after Anna, they have been an independent, a football-only member of the Metro Buckeye Conference, Northwest Central Ohio Conference and just completed their first season in the Cross County Conference. Stability is something the Redskins don’t have in a football conference.
The Western Buckeye League, which started in the 1930’s has survived over the years and still has four of the original six charter members (Celina, St. Marys, Van Wert and Wapakoneta). The last membership change came in 1981 when Delphos St. John’s left for the MAC and Shawnee rejoined after leaving in 1967.
Times have changed for all of the school systems, changing enrollments, higher gas prices, football playoffs and additional divisions added to many sports.
One recent positive change in the WBL has seen Kenton’s overall growth and improvement thanks to a new athletic administration change and has strengthen the conference. One key concern over the years has been the travel, gas prices and times students are out of class for some of those long trips. Luckily for WBL members Celina, Wapakoneta and St. Marys they compete against other schools (Mercer and Auglaize Counties) on a regular basis, which is a change from the past that helps everyone involved.
The MAC has several schools that sponsor a sport that is not a part of conference play, soccer (New Knoxville (boys), Coldwater and Delphos St. John’s (girls), swimming (boys and girls), bowling (boys and girls) and wrestling (Parkway, Delphos St. John’s, Coldwater and Versailles). The MAC schools that have soccer are currently members of the Western Ohio Soccer League .While the other sports play as independents. Swimming and bowling have the best chance of becoming the next MAC sport due to the number of currents members sponsoring the sport.
The Northern Ohio League (NOL) was located in north central Ohio and began play just after the WBL started in 1944 and just recently folded in 2017 after six of its seven members joined the Sandusky Bay Conference. The conference had been struggling with numbers for several years, plus conference leadership was not aggressive in keeping the group solid. Football scheduling became an issue with the odd number of members leaving open dates for each school during the season.
The links below show what is continuing to happen around Ohio and the region. School size, not being able to compete within the conference, football scheduling are just some of the reasons for changes. You will also see that lack of communication between members caused some of the main issues on keeping a conference together.
The High School Athletic Conference Barometer could help in keeping the doors of communication open.
Many conferences would like to have the tradition and the stability that the MAC and WBL both have, but the recent trend is to make a change rather than compromise on the issues.