LOUP CITY — When Arcadia and Loup City kick off the 2013-14 fall sports season, there won’t be any local rivalry to speak of.
That’s because all of the school’s two sports — with the exception of football — will be joining forces. The Rebels, as they’ll be known, will wear the same uniforms this season after the school’s volleyball, cross country, girl’s golf and wrestling teams made the switch last year.
“We just decided to have more of a comprehensive plan instead of just looking at every sports season and deciding what was going to happen next,” said Loup City Activities Director Nick Dodge.
“It just slowly picked up steam from the various meetings and types of needs. We were just looking at what was best for the kids overall.”
The move was made after formal and informal discussions tabled last winter. Loup City was in talks with other area schools such as Ord and Litchfield to join various programs, not necessarily just for athletics. But Arcadia, Loup City Public Schools Superintendent Tom Hinrichs said, satisfied various needs from an athletic and geographical standpoint.
The schools also petitioned the Nebraska School Activities Association to join football teams for the 2013-14 season but that request was denied because they were about to enter the second year of a two-year scheduling contract.
This will be the last season that the Arcadia and Loup City football teams will play separately.
For the sports in which they can combine, the Rebels will have a total enrollment of 100 students. With the increased enrollment, the schools will not only have a deeper student body to build the varsity squads, they’ll also be able to field full junior varsity squads.
“In the past, we’ve had to cancel JV games or maybe play a half just because we didn’t have the numbers. It wasn’t the best situation for some of our opponents,” Hinrichs said.
Dodge said the transition should be smooth from a social standpoint. The schools are only 17 miles apart, which means many of them played youth sports on the same teams and have gone to church together for years.
The difficulty will come from the logistical side. Scheduling practices, working out bus schedules and operating on two calendars will be the kinks Dodge and the administration will have to work through.
“There’s still a lot of growing pains,” Dodge said. “There are still a lot of things that are going to take time to iron out the ruffles along the edges.”
Hinrichs said the volleyball program, which was treated as the trial run for the two schools last year, already saw positive results with a 17-11 campaign. They’ve already learned some of the do’s and don’ts from other Nebraska co-op’s and feel more confident this year to apply the switch to all programs besides football.
“There’s always stuff you’ve got to overcome. It’s always the stuff you don’t think about,” Hinrichs said. “But as everybody decided, hey, this is good for our kids, we’re going to make it work, we were able to overcome those things.”
The plan for the joined programs is to continue competing in the Class C2. But Hinrichs admitted it’s too hard to give a definitive answer on what class the football program will fall into.
Administration doesn’t know if this is a long-term decision. For now, it’s just two years at a time.
“In this day and age of schools in small towns, it’s pretty hard for most to give you a crystal ball of what’s going to happen two years down the road,” Dodge said. “There’s a lot of time and money invested in this stuff, so you hope it’s more than just a temporary situation.
“You just can’t make a lot of guarantees right now on this because it’s not set up for that anyway. It’s on this two-year continuum, and you just hope for the best.”