Tri-Metro banners hang in the Upper School gym. Of the five shown here, Blake, Breck and Providence Academy will join the new IMAC conference, while Concordia and DeLaSalle will not. Photo by Kenny Kiratli.

Goodbye Tri-Metro, hello IMAC

Minnehaha, along with five other private schools, will be forming a new athletics conference: The IMAC

When the thought of adding three more teams to the already large Tri-Metro Conference was raised, a grumbling was brought up among the present Tri-Metro teams. With a possible 16 team conference looming, Athletic Director Homar Ramirez knew that change was needed in order for the conference to be successful. Internal discussions were held within the Tri-Metro, but none of the alternate options seemed to gain any traction.

The official decision to add the three teams was made, and in turn, Minnehaha Academy withdrew from the Tri-Metro Conference. “[The decision to withdraw] was initiated by myself, and then approved by our Senior Leadership Team,” said Ramirez.

Withdrawing from the Tri-Metro, Minnehaha had no plans to join another conference, and planned to be independent. However, being independent long-term was viewed as not being an option for Minnehaha, as being in a conference was a high priority for Minnehaha sports. “We knew that a conference has a meaning and is valuable, so we didn’t want to be in a conference of 16,” said Ramirez. “Soon after we went independent, we began having conversations with people who had similar thoughts, and the idea of forming a new conference because of the benefits quickly become a hot topic.”

Being one of the initial members of the Tri-Metro, and almost 40 years of playing in the conference, Minnehaha Academy has opted to leave the conference and participate in the newly formed IMAC (Independent Metro Athletic Conference). Minnehaha will be accompanied by five other schools: St. Paul Academy and Summit School, Breck, Blake, Mounds Park Academy and Providence Academy. Although the IMAC is a new conference, all of the participating schools are withdrawing from the 13 team Tri-Metro, which is now being joined by Columbia Heights, Holy Angels, and Fridley. With enrollment imbalance and the high number of teams, the identity of the Tri-Metro was becoming unclear, and change was eminent.

This new conference, the IMAC, was not something that was initially planned. Minnehaha, along with the five other schools, made decisions independently on leaving the Tri-Metro but did not make  further plans. In later discussions, the athletic directors at the six schools saw the value of participating in a conference, and agreed on creating a new one. On April 14, the IMAC Conference was formed. Realizing that the Tri-Metro was not what it once was, a new conference will present new opportunities for Minnehaha and the other five involved schools.

“The decision [to withdraw] was based less on competition, and more on geography and size, in the fact that the conference had gotten too big,” said Minnehaha Dean of Students Lance Johnson.

As the Tri-Metro was already one of the largest conferences in Minnesota, and planning to add three more teams, a new start for Minnehaha sports should bring many benefits. “We’re looking to be in a conference where we’re competitive in the majority of sports. We’re also looking to be in a conference where schools that offer as many offerings as we do,” added Johnson. “We offer almost every Minnesota State High School League sport and activity. Those schools [in the IMAC] for the most part, fit that description as well.”

Another large benefit of withdrawing from the Tri-Metro is flexibility. “If you get a coach who’s got a little better team, they can go out and get games that are going to push the players more, and if we’ve got a growing team, we can schedule opponents that are going to be a little better competition,” said Ramirez.

Many aspects of the situation are positive, and will produce many benefits, but what will Minnehaha be missing? “Playing in the Tri-Metro has been a great experience. Overall there’s been really good competition, and it’s been really fun to form rivalries with some of the schools,” said senior Calvin Treichler, captain of both boys’ varsity baseball and soccer.

The Tri-Metro Conference, which has been Minnehaha sports for almost 40 years, is something that will be remembered forever. “I was around for 40 years of the Tri-Metro, and I thought that the Tri-Metro Conference was awesome. It was a blend of private and public schools which was unusual, especially 40 years ago. It is a really unique conference, and it is really well run,” said Johnson. “So personally, I’m going to miss the Tri-Metro, but I’m also realizing that change needs to be made. There were just too many teams in the conference.”

A new conference means a fresh start for Minnehaha sports. Leaving a conference that had grown too large from what it was 40 years ago, Minnehaha looks to reach athletic equality while still competing. Who knows? Maybe eventually the IMAC Conference will become something too large and unequal; but for now, this newly formed conference provides opportunity for success, and that is just what Minnehaha Academy looks to have.

 

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About Kenny Kiratli

Kenny Kiratli ('17) attends Northwestern University.

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