Sep. 15—Lima Central Catholic is heading back to the Northwest Conference and Fort Loramie will also be joining the conference as a football only school pending its school board's approval in a Friday announcement by NWC commissioner Jon Derryberry.
In a news release, it stated that "Lima Central Catholic High School has accepted an invitation to become a member of the conference in all sports beginning with the 2024-25 school year. Member schools met Wednesday and voted unanimously to extend an invitation to LCC. This will give the conference eight full-time members with the pending departure of Ada and Leipsic for the Blanchard Valley Conference in 2024-25.
"First off they are centrally located to all the schools and that is something we were looking at," said Derryberry about bringing LCC into the NWC fold. "They've got good facilities. Their educational values are high. Their sports teams have been traditionally strong They are going to be one of the smaller schools in the league as far as numbers are and a league full-time member is better than seven full-time and two football only because that was initially considered."
As for Fort Loramie, the release stated "In order to keep the football schedule balanced with eight teams and a full schedule in weeks four through 10 an invitation was also extended to Fort Loramie High School to join the conference in 2024 football only. The Fort Loramie Board of Education will meet on Monday to consider the invitation for football only."
LCC athletic director Mike Rumschlag said this was a collaborative effort among the LCC administration, including LCC principal Stephanie Williams and some other people, and they really tried to talk through the opportunity of joining the Northwest Conference."
Rumschlag added that the NWC "opened the door" to have a conversation with them this summer to rejoin the conference that LCC was a member of from 2006 to 2013.
"We were able to lay out a case that I felt was a good representation of Lima Central Catholic. They had invited some other schools but we were happy to be there and express our interest in full membership.
"We were excited they agreed to full membership for all of our teams and not just football and we are looking forward to competing with the area schools again on a conference scale. It is a good day for Lima Central Catholic and the athletic program."
Rumshlag pointed out that being independent for the last 10 years has put a strain on the school's transportation and travel and this will help alleviate some of that strain
But more importantly, Rumschlag said that LCC student-athletes will be competing for conference titles as well as garnering individual conference honors. Its first time in the NWC, LCC won five football titles and went 51-5 in the conference. The T-Birds also collected seven boys golf championships, five boys basketball and baseball titles, four volleyball crowns, two girls soccer titles and one softball crown and a boys cross country championship.
"That is what it is all about," Rumchlag added. "It is for the kids and the opportunity for them to experience high school the way it was designed, the school rivalries, the spirit, and all those things so we are excited to get back into conference.
"Credit to the other schools and their administrations for diligently working through the challenges they were presented and we are excited and ready to get in there and start competing and to raise the bar for the NWC in a way that reflects competitive excellence in northwest Ohio and with our tradition I certainly think we provide that."
Rumschlag admitted that the school had made inquiries into joining other conferences at a "very low scale level" in the last several years but was turned down and reiterated that the NWC provided an excellent fit in a number of different areas.
Derryberry said initial discussions earlier this summer were about adding two teams as football only members but as he talked more with LCC it was decided to add it as a full-time member.
"We've been working on this for a couple of months," Derryberry said. "We are happy to have them back and it should lend some credence overall to all the sports."
Fort Loramie, which has strong ties the Shelby County League, is the lone school that would be a football only member and Derryberry said it brings a strong football tradition with it and helps fill out the schedule in the NWC.
"It is a home-home two years for sure and they understand that we would entertain full-time membership, and we understand they may possibly entertain membership elsewhere," Derryberry said. "Fort Loramie might be a little bit of travel for some but it is going to be every other year and it is good football and I think it would lend more credence to the league also."
With the start of the 2024-25 school year, the NWC will be composed of full-time members Allen East, Bluffton, Columbus Grove, Crestview, Delphos Jefferson, Lima Central Catholic, Lincolnview and Spencerville. Lincolnview does not play football.
From May 26
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.