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Conference Call: Yorkville, West Aurora joining Southwest Prairie for 2019-2020 school year

Yorkville has announced that it will be joining the Southwest Prairie Conference with West Aurora for the 2019-2020 school year.
Yorkville has announced that it will be joining the Southwest Prairie Conference with West Aurora for the 2019-2020 school year.

The Foxes have found a new home.

Yorkville CUSD 115 has announced that Yorkville and West Aurora will join the Southwest Prairie Conference – a league that includes both Oswego and Oswego East – for the 2019-2020 school year.

The Southwest Prairie's Board of Controls, made up of principals of the 10 current schools, unanimously voted to accept both Yorkville and West Aurora as its 11th and 12th members at its monthly meeting July 23.

Those two schools will join Oswego, Oswego East, Joliet Central, Joliet West, Minooka, Plainfield Central, Plainfield East, Plainfield North, Plainfield South and Romeoville.

"We feel the communities, level of competition and the opportunities offered by the SPC fit both our immediate and long-term desires as a school,” Yorkville High School Principal David Travis said in a statement released by the district.

Yorkville and West Aurora submitted a joint application to join the conference this past spring, according to the statement. Yorkville Athletic Director Seth Schoonover confirmed to Shaw Media in June that the Foxes had applied for membership.

Yorkville was looking for a new conference affiliation after recent moves by fellow members of the Northern Illinois Big 12.

League members Geneseo, LaSalle-Peru, Ottawa, Sycamore, Rochelle and Morris voted to join the new-look Interstate Eight Conference, with Sandwich and Plano.

Geneseo later changed its mind, pivoting to join the Western Big Six Conference with Sterling.
Kaneland in May approved a one-year contract to join the Interstate Eight for the 2019-2020 school year, leaving Yorkville and DeKalb looking for new affiliations. DeKalb was recently rejected by the Northern Illinois Conference 10 for membership, and has since moved toward joining the Upstate Eight Conference – as a potential replacement for West Aurora.

"With the break-up of the Northern Big XII conference, we did not want to operate as an independent school for the 19-20 school year, so finding a home was our priority,” Travis said in the statement. “We immediately looked to the SPC as our optimal landing spot due to the long-standing relationships we have with SPC and West Aurora schools, and their commitment to excel in both the athletic and co-curricular realms.”

West Aurora's move, similarly, is prompted by an exodus from the Upstate Eight.

The UEC this year is dropping from two divisions and 14 schools to one division and 10 schools, with Batavia, Geneva, St. Charles East and St. Charles North leaving to form the new DuKane Conference with Glenbard North, Lake Park, Wheaton North and Wheaton Warrenville South.

Count Chad Pohlmann, Oswego's boys basketball and boys golf coach, on board with the additions.

"I think it's fantastic," Pohlmann said. "The schedule now can get back to more balance. We obviously needed two teams, and I don't think we could have added two better teams because of the local geographical aspect. The natural rivalries are built in with history and tradition, we've played those teams in the past, we know the people on each side. It's a really good fit for everybody."

Yet to be determined is how the expanded SPC will be divided up, if it is.

The SPC already has expanded in the last two years, adding Joliet West and Joliet Central.

Two possible scenarios would be dividing the conference up by enrollment, or by geography.

Yorkville, with an enrollment of 1,781 students, will be joining the SPC as the smallest member of the league. The smallest current member is Romeoville (1,920), followed by Plainfield Central (2,066), Plainfield East (2,250), Plainfield North (2,321), Plainfield South (2,521), Oswego East (2,616), Minooka (2,724), Oswego (2,773), Joliet Central (3,233), Joliet West (3,310) and West Aurora (3,665).

Over the course of the next year, the conference members will collaborate to finalize structures, alignments, and schedules for the 2019-20 school year, according to the district statement.

“I can’t express my appreciation enough to the SPC superintendents, principals, and athletic directors for their professionalism and support throughout the entire process,” Travis said in the statement. “We were impressed with the care and thoughtfulness of the process—it truly showed to us that we are joining a first-class organization that will serve the Yorkville High School community well.”

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