League’s latest addition ready to make its debut
The Kaw Valley League's stint as a nine-school league was short-lived.
With the exception of football because of its preset schedule, Leavenworth-based Immaculata dropped out of the league last year. The school cited its small size as one of the major reasons for departing.
Turner High School happily agreed to fill the void. Its proposal to join the league was approved last year and it will begin KVL play on Aug. 30 with a boys soccer match against Bishop Ward.
The Aug. 30 soccer game - Turner's first fall competition and first official league game - will begin a new era for the formerly independent school.
THS activities director Garold Baker said the league affiliation was a big deal to athletes, coaches and community members in the Turner School District.
"They're excited that they now have an opportunity to compete for league championships and spots on all-league teams," Baker said. "I don't know that we're going to go dominate league championships at this point, but we're going to start working toward league championships down the road."
Baker said the transition from independent athletic school to a league-affiliated school had been smooth. He credited with former A.D. Paul Colwell, now the THS principal, with handling the bulk of the details related to joining the league. Those details primarily consisted of event scheduling.
Baker's primary duties for finalizing the transition will be making sure coaches are aware of any Kaw Valley League policies that may be in place in addition to Kansas State High School Activities Association regulations. Baker already is well-versed on KVL rules, however. Prior to coming to Turner, he spent 12 years at Bonner Springs High School - the final eight of them as the school's athletics director. In fact, he helped BSHS make the transition from the Huron League to the KVL in 2002.
Baker had great relationships with administrators at other league schools during his time in Bonner Springs, and he said he was eager to help Turner make a positive impact on the KVL in a number of ways. Among them, he cited sportsmanship as a priority.
He also said Turner's inclusion in the league should have a positive impact on other schools by making it more competitive. THS, a long-time Class 5A school, will become the league's largest member. The school it replaces - Immaculata - was the league's smallest. Barring any class changes from last year, Turner would join Bonner Springs, Lansing and Mill Valley as 5A schools. Six league schools - Basehor-Linwood, Tonganoxie, Piper, Bishop Ward, Perry-Lecompton and Santa Fe Trail - are in Class 4A.
"It gives us a good balance in the league of 4A and 5A schools," he said.
Baker said that although Turner would have the largest enrollment of any league school, it likely wouldn't be among the top four schools in terms of student participation in athletics. That's something Baker hopes to see improve over time, however. Competing in a league might be an added incentive.
Either way, Baker said Turner is happy to begin its tenure as a member of the KVL.
"Everybody's fired up about being in a new league, and everything's pretty positive right now," he said.