By Kent A. Stock
In December 2017, fifteen of the nineteen members in the Little Okaw Valley Conference voted to leave the league for the 2019 – 2020 school year. It was always known that this group would form a new conference only the name was in question.
The four schools remaining in the LOVC (Martinsville, Palestine, Hutsonville and Oblong) made the determination to keep the conference label, they had the rights to the name, even though none of the schools were original members and three of the four joined the conference just five years ago.
Recently a new name was recommended at a principal’s meeting for the then unnamed group. The Lincoln Prairie Conference was recommended to the administrations of the fifteen member schools. The vote was unanimous to move forward as the LPC for the upcoming school year.
“ALAH is sad to lose the name LOVC but feel great about staying in a conference with some old alliances,” said Arthur Lovington Atwood Hammond High School Assistant Principal and Athletic Director Jared Vanausdoll. “Adding regular season conference games with old rivals like
Villa Grove and Tri-County is a plus for us. We continue to feel comfortable with our place in the new Lincoln Prairie Conference and know our athletes will be competitive for a long time to come.”
The Little Okaw Valley Conference was formed in 1970 for the 1971-72 academic year. Seven of the smallest schools in the “big” Okaw Conference made the move to split away to form the original LOVC. Those schools were Arthur, Atwood-Hammond, Bement, Cerro Gordo, Newman, Oakland and Villa Grove.
The fifteen member schools of the newly minted LPC are Arcola, Arthur Lovington Atwood Hammond, Cerro Gordo, Bement, Argenta-Oreana, Sangamon Valley (Niantic and Illiopolis), Okaw Valley (Bethany and Findlay), Decatur LSA, Cumberland, Kansas, Oakland, Hume Shiloh, Villa Grove, Heritage and Farmer City Blue Ridge.
The Little Okaw Valley Conference went through many changes over the last fifty years and this will be the biggest alteration of the entity in its history.
The new Lincoln Prairie Conference will move forward as a ten team football conference until 2021 when the Illinois High School Association’s divisional play takes effect. In all other sports and activities the new conference will move on as set up as the IHSA divisional plan only applies to the sport of football.