OTTUMWA — The sporting events that got Ottumwans cheering loudest in the past may be brought back to life.
"If you're an alumnus who went to Ottumwa High School 25 years ago, you remember the games between Ottumwa and Fairfield," Superintendent Davis Eidahl said Tuesday.
The decision has been made: Ottumwa High School athletic teams will leave their conference and start their own.
"So we can reignite those traditional rivalries you remember," the superintendent told the Courier Tuesday. "Of course, the change will have greatest impact on families involved in athletics. But it will also affect fans who just attend games."
Eidahl had addressed the school board Monday night, which voted unanimously to support the change from the CIML to a smaller league.
"We would like to proceed with joining this conference," Eidahl said. "You've heard from Mr. [Tom] Kopatich and Mr. [Mark] Hanson. [We] can't really find any negatives for our athletes or our families."
Board member David Weilbrenner asked for clarification on what might happen if one of the desired schools votes against joining the new conference.
"Then this vote [today] is moot, and we go on as before [in our present conference]," Eidahl said.
Instead of 19 teams, the new league, which has not yet been officially named, would have eight teams. Ottumwa had, before the CIML, played in the Southeast Seven, but this would not be the same thing. The new conference will, if it does take off, include the Des Moines public schools, plus Indianola and Marshalltown.
"These eight schools would be a great fit," Eidahl said. "We maintain our competitive relationship with those Des Moines schools. There's fewer of them but with a lot more in common."
That includes size. Student enrollment figures are closer within the eight proposed schools than in the CIML, he said. But the reason for the change Eidahl seemed most excited about was "flexibility." It should, he said, crank up the enthusiasm for Ottumwa's high school athletics.