* Editor's Note: The following is the first of a three-part series comparing the NICL and WaMaC Conferences. This story contains mileage amounts that were rounded to the nearest whole number.
How much longer will students and parents be spending on the road when the South Tama County School District joins the WaMaC Conference in 2014-15?
In one year, the STC school district will be starting its second stint in the WaMaC after leaving its third conference in seven years. The move will cost STC more in fuel and time spent on the road, as sports and activities will be traveling further on average than they have for the past two years in the North Iowa Cedar League. This first part of the series takes a look at the traveling distances between STC and its current and future conference schools.
Competition level between conferences can and will be debated during this time of transition. That area will be addressed in the next segment of the series. However, this article focuses on simple math and the mileage between schools.
Let's compare the conferences as a whole. South Tama will be competing in the NICL, which now consists of 16 schools, for the remainder of this school year. Next year, STC will move to the WaMaC, where it will be the 16th school. STC will be competing in two, eight-team divisions this year and next year.
As a whole, the WaMaC high schools are an average of 75.1 miles away from South Tama County High School. That total distance is 1,126 miles. Meanwhile, the NICL schools are an average of 44.1 miles away from STC High School, for a total of 661 miles.
WaMaC Conference schools
Center Point-Urbana 61
Clear-Creek Amana 59
Average 54.4 381 miles
Central Clinton of DeWitt 109
Mount Vernon 61
West Delaware 95
Western Dubuque 114
Average 93.1 745 miles
Total WaMaC average 75.1 1,126 miles
East Marshall 11
West Marshall 32
Grundy Center 35
South Hardin 53
Average 36.4 255 miles
Waterloo Columbus Catholic 45
Dike-New Hartford 37
Wapsie Valley 70
Average 50.75 406 miles
Total NICL average 44.1 661 miles
"If you total it out, our average trip probably goes from 45 minutes to where we are going to be traveling, on average, an hour and 15 minutes," STC head baseball coach Seth Koch said. "It's going to be another half an hour travel time to the game. It's been awful nice the last few years to get home before 10:30 or 11 p.m., especially from a baseball standpoint when we play the next night. If we're going to have a road trip to Maquoketa and we don't get back until midnight or 1 a.m. and then turn around and have to play again the next day, that's going to be a little more stressful for the kids."
The baseball team is one of the STC squads that will be playing all 15 WaMaC opponents. The Trojans will play each WaMaC school in a varsity doubleheader, approximately three times a week, according to Koch.
Once the conferences are broken down into divisions, the gap between distances decreases, but the WaMaC schools are still further on average. In the WaMaC West Division, South Tama will be competing against Benton Community, Center Point-Urbana, Clear-Creek Amana, Independence, Marion, Vinton-Shellsburg and Williamsburg.
The WaMaC West schools are on average 54.4 miles away, for a combined total of 381, from STC High School. Benton Community and Vinton-Shellsburg, who STC competes against in many sports, are the closest at 30 and 43 miles, respectively. However, four of the other schools are 59, 61, 65 and 71 miles from STC.
Meanwhile, STC teams are only traveling 36.4 miles (255 combined total) on average to the NICL West schools. AGWSR and South Hardin are the only schools more than 35 miles away, as they are 64 and 53 miles from South Tama High School.
Comparing these numbers for the divisions, means that teams, students, parents and other fans will be traveling 18 more miles on average for a road game or event. That's more than 35 minutes of extra time on the road per average night. That's enough time for someone to travel from STC to East Marshall, back to STC and possibly back to East Marshall. The days of games in Le Grand, which is 11 miles away, will be gone after this year.
Taking a look at the East Division schools for both conferences only helps the argument for those in favor of staying in the NICL. Teams will be traveling much further to play road games against opponents on the other side of the WaMaC than they currently do in the NICL.
The East Division of the conferences adds a lot of mileage for the WaMaC schools. In most sports, South Tama may play some road games against East Division opponents, but the baseball and softball teams will play all 15 WaMaC schools. Therefore, the mileage must be accounted for and totaled.
The eight East Division WaMaC schools are, on average, 93.1 miles away from South Tama High. That's nearly 40 miles further than the West Division schools and almost 60 miles further than the NICL West schools. STC will be traveling 114 to Western Dubuque or 113 to Maquoketa, along with more than 100 miles to Central Clinton of DeWitt and Dyersville-Beckman.
Of course, the mileage also increases when looking at the NICL East Division schools, but not as much. The East schools are, on average. 50.75 miles away from South Tama. That's four miles less than the average WaMaC West Division school. Wapsie Valley is the furthest NICL East school at 70 miles away from STC.
All of this extra mileage is only being considered one way. South Tama must travel back home, too. When comparing the furthest East school, South Tama will have 88 more miles on the road during a round trip. That's more than an hour and a half, possibly closer to two hours for STC students and coaches.
"It will be more challenging, not only from a competition standpoint, but from a travel standpoint," Koch said. "That will be an adjustment the kids, coaches and I will have to make."