Muskegon’s Move To The OK Black Conference: Who, When and Why?

Andrew Trzaska | November 16, 2011

Principals from around West Michigan voted last week to realign teams within the OK Conference, ending years of struggle and failed votes to reorganize the group of over 80 schools.

Details about what this means for Muskegon High School, the largest school system in Muskegon County, came out at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting, as board superintendent Jon Felske came out in support of the changes.

Muskegon will move from the OK Red division of the conference to the OK Black starting with the 2012-2013 school year, leaving behind a football powerhouse conference that included Grand Haven, Lowell and Rockford.

While the move is primarily viewed through a football lens due to Muskegon’s strong program and the current fall time frame, the move is described as a benefit for the district’s other sporting programs.

The realignment matches schools closer in total student enrollment.  The new OK Black has a size range of only a few hundred students from largest to smallest. Previously, Muskegon played schools twice its size, such as Rockford.

Skewing toward the northwestern side of the conference’s footprint, the OK Black now includes the following schools including all three in Muskegon County:

 

Muskegon

Grand Rapids Union

Mona Shores

Reeths-Puffer

Zeeland East

Kenowa Hills

 

A recent communication obtained by 103.7 The Beat between Muskegon High School Principal Corry Lohman and the Board of Education indicated that Muskegon’s move would keep things local:

“So for instance depending on what the athletic directors put together we may still play Rockford or Grand Haven in football,” said Lohman. “The hope is that this will create some closer hometown rivalries…”

Football schedules have been mostly determined at this time; other sports will be worked out in the coming months.  The third and fourth weeks of each football season will have crossover between the OK Red, White and Black divisions.

The group of principals voted 38-12 to pass the realignment, which was the minimum threshold to do so.  Muskegon voted yes on the proposal.

“I do believe this is a good decision,” said Muskegon school superintendent Jon Felske. “We voted to do this.  We are now competing with schools and school districts the same size as us.”

Mona Shores and Reeths-Puffer, the other two OK conference districts in Muskegon County, voted no last week. However, both districts logged yes votes in the June 2011.

Reeths-Puffer and Mona Shores stated that their votes were not in opposition to Muskegon joining but were instead about the forced crossover weeks requiring them to play teams outside of the OK Black.

Andrew Trzaska

103.7 “The Beat” – local government beat reporter and political analyst