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Middle school basketball, volleyball conference realigned

In an effort to create more equitable competition for young athletes, the Fox Valley Middle School Conference has been realigned for girls and boys basketball and volleyball.

Creekside and Northwood middle schools have competed in recent years against schools from Huntley, Crystal Lake, Johnsburg, McHenry and Richmond, but a new alignment approved Dec. 7 will split the conference in half.

As of the 2018-2019 school year, the two Woodstock middle schools will play in a separate division of the conference against Johnsburg, Nippersink, Parkland and McHenry middle schools. Cary Junior High, Bernotas, Heineman, Marlowe, Hannah Beardsley and Lundahl middle schools will play in the other conference division.

Creekside Principal Michael Wheatley said the issue was first brought up by Johnsburg Middle School administrators who noted that generally smaller middle schools have had a difficult time competing with the generally larger schools. The goal of the realignment is to give more teams and student athletes a more level playing field.

“It’s giving kids an opportunity to be successful and be competitive,” Wheatley said. “You have a better chance to be competitive.”

For similar reasons, Woodstock and Woodstock North high schools left the Fox Valley Conference for the Kishwaukee River Conference two years ago. Coincidentally, 4 of the 6 teams in the new middle school division (Creekside, Northwood, Johnsburg and Nippersink) feed into high schools in the Kishwaukee River Conference (Woodstock and Woodstock North,  Richmond-Burton and Johnsburg).

The middle schools that make up the other new division consists entirely of schools that feed into the Fox Valley Conference (Huntley, Prairie Ridge, Crystal Lake South, Crystal Lake Central and Cary-Grove high schools.)

Some details of the new middle school conference divisions are still being worked out, but so far it appears that each team within a division will play a home and away game against each of the other five teams. Teams would also play one team each year from the other division.

Athletic directors and other administrators will also be working on how the conference tournaments will work at the end of each season.

The conference shift will not affect student athletes or teams in wrestling, track and cross country, which are more individualized sports.