By Dan Hardenbrook
Two EUP Schools could soon turn to each other in hopes of saving their athletic programs for the future. Cedarville and DeTour have been having exploratory talks on that possibility for several months, with the conversations starting last summer. At a special community forum in Cedarville Monday night, more than one hundred people packed the cafeteria as players, parents, family, and fans shared input on the potential co-op that would start this fall.
The two schools, who have partnered together to play football since 2005, would join forces for all sports starting next school year. The cooperative agreement would be for athletics only and would cover cross country, football, volleyball, boys and girls basketball, track, and golf. Monday night’s meeting was about answering questions, getting feedback, and sharing initial thoughts on how all of this might work.
Les Cheneaux Community Schools Board member Jason Bohn said the discussions are ongoing, and all administrators agree the number one thing to keep in mind is the kids. “When we’ve had these discussions as a board, we’ve explored everything as if it were about the kids,” Bohn said. “We want to do the best we can for our students. That’s what this is about.”
Cedarville Athletic Director Marcie Fierek broke down some of the numbers that the two towns are facing, laid out a partial plan, and addressed some of the challenges. Under the current plan the two programs would merge but keep all of their current facilities. The student body from each school will give input and vote on a new mascot, colors, and team name.
“This has been a huge topic among our students,” Fierek said. “I feel like bringing the students in and allowing them to have input on that will be very important.” The two schools would also share a new athletics policy handbook, and all current coaches would be asked to re-apply for their positions. A committee with members from both districts would select varsity coaches first, and those coaches would offer input on choices for JV coaches.
Fierek said that the football schedule would stay the same, with one game per season staying in DeTour and all other games and practices conducted in Cedarville. Cross country, track, and golf would remain similar, as both schools compete at many of the same events. The major changes would come in volleyball and basketball.
“We would look to alternate back and forth,” Fierek said. “So one week, if the girls are in Cedarville, the boys would practice in DeTour. Varsity sports would have the after-school time slot, with JV after. Then the next week, we would flip.”
In boys and girls basketball, the 10 home games would be split with five in each location. Volleyball has two less contests, so the split would be four games apiece with the JV playing four tournaments and the varsity playing three.
Both schools would keep their current athletic budgets.
“When we started this process I initially thought we would be saving a ton of money but that’s not the case,” Bohn said. “There isn’t really a ton of savings, at least at first.”
The major concern with many in attendance was the travel, especially in the winter season when conditions can be poor and not always the same in both towns.
Another challenge is that DeTour draws many students from Drummond Island. That makes it necessary to factor in boat times for the ferry into all travel plans. “We have gotten a ton of great feedback from folks in DeTour,” said Leslie Freel, Les Cheneaux school board member. “We need to draw on that experience. They have been doing this for 15 years with football. It’s all new to us.”
Other concerns that have been discussed include a lack of busses and drivers in both districts, which would force the need for a new vehicle just for athletics, and the possibility that coaches get certified to drive if the schools plan to cover transportation.
Meeting leaders emphasized that no decision has been made, and this is still being discussed. The MHSAA deadline to be eligible for the fall is April 15th.