Close to 200 people showed up for an informational meeting on the possible change of conferences for the Taylorville Tornadoes. Athletic Committee Chairman Seth Mcmillan welcomed the large crowd and quickly turned the meeting over to AD Paul Held for a review of the winter and spring sports teams. The highlights of those sports being the girls basketball team that finished the season with over 20 wins and the wrestling program that won it’s first team regional title in the program’s history. The wrestling program also sent 12 wrestlers to the sectional.
Mrs. Fraley took a couple of moments to read a statement discussing the rich history of Taylorville sports, especially the period in the 40’s that saw the Tornado basketball team become a dynasty. Coach Dolph Stanley created a heritage by amassing a 217-49 record from 1937 through 1945. He coached the team to 6 regionals, 2 sectionals and a state championship with a 45-0 record that still stands as the best in the state of Illinois. She then proposed that to commemorate these accomplishments, that the board consider renaming the West gym, Dolph Stanley Gym.
The floor was then turned over to Dr. Fuerstenau who expressed that the meeting was strictly informational and an opportunity for those gathered to share their opinions about the possibility of leaving the CS8 conference. The superintendent informed those in attendance that the conference demographics had changed substantially since it’s inception, The biggest difference being that the large schools were getting larger and the small schools, smaller, with there being no change in that trend in the near future. It was noted that Springfield High had grown from an enrollment of 1335 to 1563 and Chatham had increased enrollment to 1346 from a starting figure of 824. Schools like Taylorville, Jacksonville and Lincoln were seeing their enrollments decrease with Taylorville going from a start of 839 to a projected enrollment of only 787 by the 2016-2017 school year. The schools of the Apollo Conference, a possible fit for the Tornadoes, seemed to run closer to the enrollment of Taylorville. The teams of the proposed Apollo Conference and their enrollments are Mattoon (1031), Charleston (883), Effingham (869), Salem (795), Mt. Zion (760) and Paris (622).
The difference in travel was also discussed by Dr. Fuerstenau. Most of the schools in the proposed conference are at least 58 miles away, one way. The additional travel would require earlier departure times as well as higher fuel costs. This point was discussed at length by those who supported staying in the Central State 8.
The floor was opened to the public to express their thoughts concerning the possible change. The speakers were just about split on their feelings. Most of those that supported the move sited the opportunity to once again be competitive in all sports as well as the opportunity for the student athletes to enjoy their high school sports experience.
Several students came forward and expressed their desire to stay in the CS8 because of the better opportunity to be recruited by colleges. 4 coaches came forward including Coach Mateer and Coach Odam, who both expressed their desire to see the Tornadoes be proactive and make a move before the CS8 conference voted Taylorville out of the conference.
Afterward Seth McMillan spoke that both sides were very valid in their points with the biggest “con” being the additional miles that would need to be traveled and the biggest “pro” being the opportunity to once again be competitive with schools of like size from towns with similar backgrounds and economics. He expressed that the full board would discuss the proposal in length at Monday’s regular board meeting.