Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

December 18, 2012

Cowden-Herrick, Beecher City talk co-oping all sports

Jackson Adams
Effingham Daily News

BEECHER CITY — Two schools that already share most of their athletic programs may bring the rest of the programs together as early as next year.

Cowden-Herrick Board of Education members discussed a possible all-athletic co-op with Beecher City at their board meeting Thursday.

"They want all the athletics to be together," said Cowden-Herrick Superintendent Darrell Gordon. "We're looking at seeing if we could have a better financial fit for the students and to have the best possible competition we can get."

Cowden-Herrick and Beecher City already have cooperative agreements for most of their athletic programs with only three remaining independent at both schools: high school and junior high boys basketball, and high school volleyball. An upcoming co-op could combine the remaining teams under a single banner.

Gordon said Cowden-Herrick is still in the early stages of deciding whether or not to embrace the full athletic co-op and said early preparation could iron out any unforeseen problems.

"We're still on a very early timeline," he said. "We're looking at next year or the following year. There's no proper timeline. We're waiting so if we see the problems, we can try to fix them."

Beecher City Superintendent Scott Cameron said a full athletic co-op could improve the competitiveness of the teams, as well as giving all players more game time.

"The possibility is having teams without having to bring up younger kids who are not of grade level," he said. "We could have a freshmen team and a JV team and have all of the players see game time. Obviously, we're both small programs, and we've already seen what the co-op can do with the girls basketball program. We're going to see if this could be the same case."

After the girls program was the state runners-up in 2011, Gordon said he hopes a full athletic co-op between the two schools could make the team as competitive as other local co-opted programs and potentially attract additional collegiate attention to the basketball program and its star players.

"You've already got Brownstown and St. Elmo who've become a much more competitive school," he said. "And Stew-Stras and Windsor is going to be much stronger than they were. This could let us compete at a different level. We could see more scouts coming in to check on us. College play is so much more competitive now and this could help."

Ultimately, Gordon said the public will have a voice in any decision to fully co-op.

"We all agreed early on we'd definitely have community meetings," he said. "That's important. "This is their community and this is their team."

Jackson Adams can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 131, or jackson.adams@effinghamdailynews.com.