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Wolverines may be joining Park Region Conference

The Wadena-Deer Creek school board approved a resolution to seek membership in the Park Region Conference at their July 9 meeting.

Wadena-Deer Creek Activities Director Norm Gallant proposed the idea of joining the PRC at the board's June meeting. If accepted, the Wolverines would begin playing a PRC schedule in 2015-2016.

Wadena was a founding member of the Mid-State Conference and Gallant would like to see the Wolverines remain in the Mid-State in some sports — most notably hockey, cross country and golf — because PRC schools do not offer those sports.

The Park Region Conference presently consists of Verndale, Bertha-Hewitt, Henning, New York Mills, Pillager, Menahga and Sebeka.

Gallant told the board in June he approached the Park Region Conference activities directors at their meeting to see if the move was feasible.

"The feeling from the A.D.'s is that they'd welcome us in," Gallant told the board. "I've already gone to our coaches. Our coaches are in favor of the move."

Changing enrollment has played a large part in the change.

"As enrollments have changed, we find we do not fit as well in the Mid-State Conference anymore," Gallant said.

In addition to WDC, the Mid-State Conference consists of Detroit Lakes, Staples-Motley, Pequot Lakes, Crosby-Ironton and Park Rapids. WDC is three times smaller than Detroit Lakes and a little more than half the size of Pequot Lakes.

"Twenty years ago Wadena-Deer Creek was 180 kids a class and one of the big dogs in the Mid-State and now we are very small in the Mid-State and Detroit Lakes is not getting any smaller so it's not necessarily a good experience for our kids," Gallant said.

Gallant pointed out that five of the PRC's seven schools are as close, or closer, than the shortest road trip WDC is making now. He also expected attendance at home games to increase because of the shorter travel time for fans.

"It's better for parents, it's better for schools, it's better for the athletes," was WDC School Board Chair Steve Techam comment at the board's June meeting.

The lack of a second to three motions by Techam at the July 14 meeting killed a request from Verndale to join school boys' hockey cooperative, which presently consists of Staples, Browerville, Eagle Valley, New York Mills and WDC.

"They didn't think it was in the best interests of the school district," WDC Superintendent Lee Westrum said.

Verndale Activities Director Mike Mahlen pointed out that Verndale was once a member of the WDC hockey cooperative.

"We used to be paired with Wadena in hockey," Mahlen said. "At that time Brian Silbernick was A.D. They came to me and said they wanted to add Perham. Since we didn't have anyone in hockey I said we'd drop but I said when we get someone that wants to play hockey we'd like to get that cooperative back. It was a gentleman's agreement. I guess we should have had it in writing."

Mahlen had no comment on how he feels about WDC's application to join the Park Region Conference at this time but he did say that PRC coaches, as well as activities directors, will have a say in the matter.

The board accepted resignations from Elementary Paraprofessional Ryan Hill, Elementary Music Teacher Katy Westrom and Elementary Teacher Gena Sperling. They approved the hiring of Music Teacher Mary Ellenson, Paraprofessionals Michelle Sundby, Lloyd Danzeisen and Jessica Finck. The board approved the hiring of hiring of Katrina Wahlin as head girls' tennis coach.