Talk of league change continues due to enrollment differences

In preparation, a new football schedule has also been created


By Photo by Karissa Schmidt

The football team won their fifth Kaw Valley League championship this year.

In hopes of competing against larger schools, the athletic department is currently making attempts to leave the Kaw Valley League.

During the 2012-13 school year alone, athletic and academic teams collectively won 11 KVL championships out of a possible 14, and some coaches and players hope a larger league would provide more competition.

Currently, the KVL has eight member teams, which includes 4A and 5A schools. Other leagues in the area include: Sunflower League, which consists of all 6A schools, Eastern Kansas League, which consists of all 5A and 6A schools, except for Bishop Miege High School and the Frontier League, which consists of all 4A schools.

One of the main reasons the school is trying to leave the league is because of the size discrepencies in KVL schools. Mill Valley has 1,290 students currently enrolled and the next largest school in the KVL is Turner High School with 907 students.

“We [the KVL athletic directors] started discussing enrollment numbers and where [Mill Valley] might end up, and there was a fear that Mill Valley would become a 6A school,” athletic director David Ewers said. “Then there would be a 6A [school], three 5A [schools] and four 4A [schools], so you’d have one league stretching across three different classifications. That really got the conversation started and got everyone working together to discuss alternative possibilities.”

The school has given two other area leagues formal letters of interest; however, various issues could prevent Mill Valley from being able to make the change immediately.

“There’s a lot of factors that go into leaving one league and joining another,” Ewers said. “You obviously have to be welcomed into the league. From a financial standpoint, you have to make sure you can make the change. From a facility standpoint, you have to make sure you can accommodate [the size influx]. It’s not as simple as ‘let’s just make a move.’”

In preparation to join another league, the school has planned a new two-year football schedule. The team added Staley High School, St. Thomas Aquinas High School, St. James Academy, Blue Valley Northwest High School and Derby High School to the schedule. Only three KVL teams remaining on the schedule: Bonner Springs High School, Lansing High School and Turner High School, as they are in the school’s state football district. The team played six KVL teams in 2013.

Ewers said these changes were a mutual decision between all of the KVL school athletic directors at a monthly meeting.

Head football coach Joel Applebee welcomes the new schedule. Football has won five league championships since 2002.

“It’s going to be a completely different kind of challenge for us,” Applebee said. “The preparation that goes into knowing the opponent will take us preparing and putting in a little more work to know those teams. And of course trying to get that across to our kids will be a heck of a challenge, but it’s going to be fun.”

Senior defensive tackle Ryan Smith said he would have rather played the new schedule during his four years on varsity.

“The KVL does have some good competition,” Smith said. “It would have been nice to branch out and have different competition. Better competition can always help you get ready for those difficult games.”

After playing varsity soccer for three years, senior forward Michaela Remijio said she would have rather played in a more competitive league. Girls soccer has won five league championships in the past six years.

“Playing any type of game will give us experience, which in turn makes us better,” Remijio said. “However, playing 6A schools with a larger talent pool really gives us a leg up for the state tournament. It gives us more experience and opportunities to work on things that need to improve.”

The girls track team has won the KVL championship for the past 13 years. Senior Brooklyn Hogfoss would exchange consecutive league championships for more difficult competition.

“I feel like it would be better for our team if we switched leagues,” Hogfoss said. “It’s hard to find the motivation to improve when we are running against the same competition over and over again. Winning league championships doesn’t mean anything if it’s easy.”

Senior golfer Jon Darby said golfing in a different league would have better prepared him for the state tournament his freshman year.

“In golf, the Sunflower League is much more competitive than the Kaw Valley League,” Darby said. “Playing against those schools during regular season encourages us to practice more in the off-season. And when I went to state, it was really difficult because I’d never golfed against such huge competition.”

Head basketball coach Justin Bogart believes it is time for a league change. Boys basketball won league championships in 2004 and 2006.

“Now is the right time,” Bogart said. “We need to embrace what this school has become and what it still aspires to be and that’s going to be a large, suburban school, and that doesn’t fit very well in our current league. It is time. We need to continue the process of searching out what’s best for Mill Valley High School now and in the future.”

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