Parents, students react to IMC move

Change is a fact of life. How people adjust to change is a matter of perspective. One major change that will begin affecting the lives of many local residents next fall is the Oregon School Activities Association’s Dec. 3 vote to move Hood River Valley High School into the Intermountain Conference. Some residents are furious about the ruling and have begun considering alternatives for their children, such as asking them to choose one sport, lobbying for independent schedules, moving to Portland, or simply dropping high school sports altogether. Others, such as HRV head wrestling coach Mark Brown, believe that such a move could benefit certain programs as well as individuals. “We’re taking the positive approach,” said Brown, whose children, Lindsay and Adam, each participate in HRV athletics. “Our family is going to be involved in sports no matter where we play. Playing sports helps build better people and we’ll do whatever it takes to stay involved. “We are faced with challenges every day and this is just another one,” he said. Fellow HRV parent David Meyer agrees that next year’s adjustment will be a challenge for his family, and the change may not necessarily be for the best. “I think the move will create a major hardship,” said Meyer, whose daughter Emily competes in track and cross-country at HRV. “With all the travel and class time lost, I would say that, as a parent, an independent schedule may be a better option.” Meyer and others believe an independent (non-OSAA affiliated) schedule could provide a suitable alternative to potential travel nightmares to central Oregon. “I’m looking at the possibility of not being able to watch my kids except for home games,” said Daryn Fogle, who has two sons (Jarrod and Jeremy) at HRV and another one (Jordan) in seventh grade. Each is actively involved in athletics, and Fogle would like to be a part of that. “It’s bad enough trying to go to two games in the Mt. Hood Conference in the same night. Now it will be impossible,” he said. “Plus, I don’t really like the idea of my kids missing classes or going across the mountains.” Kathy Nishimoto, whose freshman son Bryan plays football, basketball and baseball at HRV, is also concerned about the safety and class-time issues, but in the end, she believes the greatest hardship falls upon the students. “The financial constraints may not allow some top-quality coaches to participate in these sports, and that would only hurt the programs at the school,” she said. “Some teams have had the same kids playing together for years and now there will be some who won’t be able to play. That would really be sad.” Similarly, many HRV students are disappointed with the ruling, and don’t believe it benefits either the athletes or their families. “Changing to the Intermountain conference not only means more traveling for the teams, but the parents will have to arrange overnight lodging just to watch their kids’ games,” junior Elie Meierbachtol said. Junior Jon Gehrig agreed. “I believe this decision was not made in the best interest of HRV students or the school. It will greatly reduce sports participation because of greater travel time and the amount of school missed,” he said. Junior Christy Paul, who will now be unable to defend her district cross-country title, views the decision as unfair to herself and other student athletes. “This decision was made without consideration of HRV students,” she said. “We will be forced to choose between academics and athletics, not a healthy balance of the two. As a result, both areas will suffer.” HRV will begin competing in cross-country, soccer, football and volleyball in the fall against Hermiston, Pendleton, Crook County, Redmond and three Bend schools.

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