Last week, the O-K Conference voted to expand by bringing Fruitport and Spring Lake into the conference.

West Catholic Athletic Director/Football Head Coach Dan Rohn shared with us some of his concerns about the realignment and his thoughts on the renewed annual football rivalry between West Catholic and Catholic Central.

As a West Catholic alumnus and a fan, I was excited to see the O-K Conference realignment bring the return of the annual West Catholic/Catholic Central football game. The two schools last played each other in football in 2009.

I contacted West Catholic Athletic Director/Football Head Coach Dan Rohn to ask his thoughts on the O-K Conference realignment which will take place in fall of 2016.

Rohn said:

Personally, I am not sure the OK conference realignment committee and commissioner came up with the best possible solution; but every school has to live with the outcome. We have been very supportive of the OK Conference since entering in 2008. We have been very flexible considering we have moved to different divisions, 3 times, in 8 years. We started in the Blue, moved to the Bronze, and are now in the Blue again. The moves have been because the OK Conference asked us too, or needed us too, for the betterment of the league. I feel for some of the school districts like Wyoming and Kenowa, who have been put in a division that will force their parents, fans, and students to travel to the lakeshore for over half of their league events, while other schools will travel 10-15 minutes for their furthest event.
Furthermore, a proposed realignment was discussed that was identical to the current format, the one change being Forest Hills Eastern in the Blue Division and Grand Rapids Catholic Central in the Gold. Concerns were voiced at the OK Conference meeting of principals, superintendents, and AD’s, indicating the alignment was affected by public schools not wanting to play parochial schools and that the distinction between public and parochial played a role in the final outcome of the alignment, without taking into consideration the concerns or feelings of the schools involved.
Nowhere in the OK Conference handbook is there any mention of taking public schools vs. parochial into mind when it comes to realignment. The fact that this sentiment was voiced is a concern to me.

I also asked Rohn his thoughts on the renewed football rivalry with Catholic Central and what it means to the team and West Catholic community.

Rohn said:

The O-K Blue is a great league, with some good rivalries already in football.  I think adding Catholic Central to the schedule will hopefully help prepare us for our ultimate goal of winning another state championship. We have played CC four times in 3 seasons and we have won 3 of those 4 games. (2007 - 2009) But, we didn’t win a state title in any one of those years. You asked me if the renewed rivalry means anything to me and my program. I have to be honest and say the rivalry means nothing to me, unless it can help us prepare to win a state championship.  History shows it has not helped us in the past. As a matter of fact, the first time the two schools did not play each other in 2010, we both won state championships.

With 48 schools in the O-K Conference it is nearly impossible to create perfect divisions. Last week's vote required the support of 36 of the 48 schools for the changes to pass.

40 schools voted to pass the realignment and the addition of two schools.

New rivalries will be formed and old rivalries will be revisited under the new alignment and all are sure to be exciting, but the question of whether public and private schools should be treated differently when divisions are created is one worth discussing.