Swanton Superintendent Chris Lake informed the Swanton Board of Education Wednesday of talks regarding a potential new athletic league. Lake outlined reasons for Swanton to join a new league and what the process would be, while stressing that any potential change is still in the discussion phase.
Other schools Lake named as being involved in new league discussion were Evergreen, Delta, Ottawa Hills, Northwood, and Montpelier. Edon was mentioned as a football-only member.
“I’m not trying to create a league that Swanton’s gonna dominate,” said Lake. “I just want a league where our kids know they’ve got a shot.”
Enrollment at Swanton Local Schools has dropped in recent years, according to the superintendent. Of the six lowest grades in the district, all but one has under 100 students. Higher grades all have a little over 100 students. This year’s kindergarten class has just 74 students.
“We keep our fingers crossed and hope we hit the 90s anymore,” said Lake. “We were not thrilled when we only saw 74 coming in.
“You’re going to have these small classes coming through. And when you’re trying to get kids out and the school is smaller, it’s very difficult to be competitive.”
He compared Swanton’s enrollment to that of Wauseon and Bryan, the largest schools in the league. This year Swanton has 1,233 students, while Wauseon has 1,716 and Bryan has 1,790.
Athletically, he mentioned that Swanton has had trouble consistently winning Northwest Ohio Athletic League titles over the last 20 years.
Of the current league members, Swanton has the fourth most boys league titles and fourth most girls league titles. They have 41 boys titles and 24 girls titles. The Bulldogs trail Archbold, Bryan, and Wauseon in both.
But Lake said only nine league titles have been won since 2000. Two of those — girls soccer and volleyball — were won this school year.
Girls soccer is the sport where Swanton has seen the most league success recently. They have won three league titles in the 10 years of NWOAL soccer. There likely would have been more league titles in the first decade of the 2000s if there had been NWOAL soccer.
The last football title was won in 2015 during a run of three straight playoff appearances. Prior to that, the last title was in 1995.
The discussions were also brought up at the most recent Evergreen Board of Education meeting. The Vikings have four NWOAL boys titles in their history, but did win a boys basketball title last season.
Evergreen Board members said they would like to speak to coaches, and suggested a public forum before any possible action is taken.
Lake said he has had discussions with other schools, including at least one to the east of Swanton. “I do believe that there will be other schools that are going to show an interest because people just need to know it’s real first,” he said.
Nothing has been finalized. Leaving the NWOAL would require the approval of the Boards of Education. They would then notify the NWOAL and complete a two-year withdrawal process.