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Hamilton Hornets school board votes to apply for membership in the KCI conference- by Josh Sisson
May 12, 2011Amateur Sports Network
The start of the 2011 school year will represent 62 years of participation in the Grand River Conference for the Hamilton Hornets. It will also be the last.
The Hamilton school board recently voted to leave the GRC and apply for membership in the KCI conference. The KCI accepted Hamilton’s bid, making it the eighth member school going into 2012.
David Elms, the KCI conference secretary and athletic director at East Buchanan high school, said Hamilton was an obvious choice.
“They’ll fit in great. That’s why we’re so excited to have them join the conference,” Elms said. Their enrollment fits. The types of activities and competition they offer just aligns perfectly. The timing was right. Everything just kind of fell into place.”
In terms of enrollment, Hamilton is currently the largest school in the GRC. The Hornets dominate much of the competition, particularly in football and basketball over the last five years.
Although he said the decision was not easy, Hamilton athletic director Dave Richman agreed the move needed to be made.
“Geographically, and with the size of the schools, it’s a natural fit…” Richman said. “Enrollment-wise it just made more sense for us to get in with some schools more our size. It’s no reflection on the GRC. It had nothing to do with us being unhappy with them. It’s just that opportunity maybe only knocks once, and you either take advantage, or it won’t be there again.”
In the KCI, Hamilton will be toward the middle of the pack as far as enrollment. With most of the GRC teams being in the northern part of the state, traveling will become a little easier for the Hornets, also. The longest trip for Hamilton in the KCI will be West Platte.
Fierce rivalries develop from longstanding affiliation with an athletic conference, and it was no different for the Hornets in the GRC. The yearly clash with Gallatin became one of those rivalries in football.
Richman said keeping Gallatin on the football non-conference slate was a priority.
“That was one of the first calls we made, keeping them on the schedule,” Richman said. “It’s been a good rivalry over the years.”
Hamilton will battle Gallatin in week two of the 2012 football season. They open non-conference play against another GRC foe, South Harrison. Richman expects Hamilton to keep many of their old GRC opponents on the schedules for boys and girls basketball, as well.
With the Hornets squaring off against some of the KCI conference teams in the postseason the last couple years, there is already a degree of familiarity. Elms said it will not take long before new rivalries take hold.
“Mid Buchanan has become a pretty good contest in boys basketball,” Elms said. “In football and in girls basketball Hamilton’s been very competitive with Lawson the last couple years.”
Hamilton plans to start up a volleyball program as well, which will fit perfectly with the KCI. With eight teams in the conference, the KCI will be able to have more conventional conference tournaments in basketball and volleyball. Currently, the winner of a three-team pool plays the winner of a four-team bracket to determine a conference champion, due to only having the seven teams.
The GRC does not have immediate plans to replace Hamilton in the conference, so it will make do with seven members starting in 2012.
Richman acknowledged the decision to leave was a tough one, but one that will benefit the students of Hamilton.
“It’s mixed emotions. When you’re in a conference that long you make a lot of contacts and you’re comfortable, but sometimes change is good.”