DeKalb HS added to Dupage Valley Conference


Art by Yoo Young Chun

Abby Rohe, Staff Writer

DeKalb High School, also known by their mascot, the “Barbs,” has made the decision to leave their dissolving Northern Illinois Big Twelve (NIB-12) Conference. After eight years of being a member of the NIB-12, DeKalb joins the DuPage Valley Conference (DVC) of which Naperville Central is also a member.

All other member schools of the NIB-12 have decided to leave and join other conferences, which completely dissolves the NIB-12 by the 2019-2020 school year. DeKalb then had the option to either join another conference or go without one for next school year.

James Horne, principal of DeKalb High School, was involved in initially reaching out to the IHSA to join the DuPage Valley Conference (DVC), as well as a tour for the IHSA committee of DeKalb High School and its athletics department.

“[DeKalb] did a lot of searching,” Horne said. “A lot of conversations were had with conferences that were close to DeKalb High School. But we found that the DuPage Valley [Conference] fit our need for a variety of reasons: everything from athletics, academics, to activities.”

The DVC consisted of five high schools before accepting DeKalb. Some people were concerned by the size of the conference.

“Five [schools] was not sustainable for very long,”  said Michael Stine, Central’s head football coach. “We reached out to talk to the Oswegos and the Bolingbrooks and some other areas. We didn’t [receive] a lot of interest. So, when DeKalb reached out to us that they had an interest, that was a good thing for us.”

Some activities impacted by DeKalb joining DVC are baseball, golf, track and field, cross country and band. DeKalb is located about an hour away from Central, and soon teams will have to make the trip when DeKalb hosts events or competitions. This is considerably less time than Central’s football team logged on recent trips to Ohio and Kentucky in order to fill the minimum number of games needed for its seasons.

These shifts in athletic and activity conferences do not occur often, as the process takes around two years to complete all the necessary requirements once a school decides they want to leave their current conference for another. A conference dissolving is one of the only ways to switch conferences within a year. Although, the 2019-2020 school year may be the exception as the Interstate Eight, Western Big Six, Southwest Prarie and many other conferences will experience change and restructure.

There are a number of reasons, other than the disappearance of their conference, that a school may make the decision to join a new conference.

“Sometimes it’s due to enrollment differences,” Stine said. “[Schools] feel they need to go somewhere else to play teams more equal in their size.”

However, DeKalb is now the smallest school in their new conference with around 1,000 fewer students than each of the other high schools including Central.

Yet Horne sees competing with larger schools as an opportunity to expose players to more skilled teams and push them to improve.

“Interacting with schools and communities that are a little bit larger than the town of DeKalb that brings a lot of excitement to me,” Horne said. “We knew we were [already] playing at a caliber that you see with larger schools where you have more populations of students to put on teams in a more competitive environment. [Joining DVC] gives us a new level of competition. In athletics, you’re only as good as the teams that you’re competing against and that level of competition is healthy for athletics.”