By J.O. Parker
Change is coming to the Grinnell Tigers athletic program.
Grinnell is leaving the Little Hawkeye Conference and is joining the bigger WaMaC beginning with the 2023-24 school year.
The Grinnell-Newberg Community School District Board of Directors voted on the move at its regular meeting on Jan. 12.
“Grinnell isn't seeing the economic development that the other Little Hawkeye schools are experiencing,” noted athletic director Chris Coffman of the move. “Our enrollment is stagnant while the others are growing.”
Coffman added that with the addition of Indianola to the Little Hawkeye Conference, the competition has been great, but it definitely has tipped the scales towards the larger schools.
“For Grinnell to be successful, our students need to be involved in activities year-round,” Coffman said. “We don't have the luxury for athletes to specialize like the larger schools.”
Grinnell joined the Little Hawkeye Conference with Pella and Knoxville in 1996 following the reorganization of the South Central Conference at the end of the 1995-96 school year.
Grinnell and Pella Christian are the two smallest schools in the Little Hawkeye Conference with Indianola being the largest.
In the WaMaC, Grinnell will be one of the larger schools behind Clear Creek-Amana and Marion.
According to Coffman, Grinnell has been discussing this change for a while.
“The timing was right with Beckman Catholic and Maquoketa leaving the WaMaC (at the end of the 2022 season) and the uncertainty of the LHC, due to the breakup of the C.I.M.L. (Central Iowa Metro League),” he said.
Beckman Catholic and Maquoketa are leaving for the River Valley Conference.
With the departure of Beckman Catholic and Maquoketa, the WaMaC will be 11 school for one year and then move to 12 with the addition of Grinnell the following year.
The WaMaC includes Mount Vernon, Solon, West Delaware, Benton Community, Center Point-Urbana, Clear Creek-Amana, Independence, Marion, South Tama County, Vinton-Shellsburg and Williamsburg.