In a statement Wednesday, Providence Academy announced that it will not participate in the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) Tri-Metro Conference, effective next school year. PA sports teams will play in the same section, but independently of any conference.
“The advantage of an independent schedule is you can decide who you want to play sport to sport,” said Mr. Kurt Jaeger, Athletic Director at Providence Academy.
The addition of Columbia Heights, Fridley, and the Academy of Holy Angels to the Tri-Metro Conference recently prompted PA’s decision to withdraw, due mainly to these schools’ high numbers of enrolled students.
PA was not the only school to opt for independent status: Blake, Breck, Minnehaha, St. Paul Academy and Mounds Park Academy will also not renew their memberships.
The decision is not a sudden one, said Mr. Jaeger. Historically, the three new schools (Columbia Heights, Fridley, and Holy Angels) had applied for, and been denied by, the Tri-Metro Conference. After being denied by two other conferences as well, the MSHSL stepped in according to policy and placed the teams in the Tri-Metro Conference.
“The six schools that officially withdrew were very vocal,” said Mr. Jaeger, meaning that PA and others said that they would likely not remain in the conference if new teams increased the numbers. Mr. Jaeger said that the already high number of 13 teams in the conference when PA joined had suggested that no more schools would join.
“This isn’t about fear of playing somebody in a particular sport,” said Mr. Jaeger. He said that two problems would arise from remaining in the Tri-Metro: that some sports would not play all 16 teams in the conference anyway, and that “because of diverse enrollments, there are just bad match-ups.”
As for the community’s response: “The students seem worried about what this means for us,” he said. “There’s been a lot more student inquiry” than parent inquiry.
Kate Pulles ’14, a senior girls’ soccer captain, was untroubled by the departure.
“Conference championship was never really a big deal,” she said.