A 31-year marriage will break up at the end of the school year.
Tekoa and Oakesdale combined to field sports teams in 1984, but they’re divorcing after a highly successful relationship.
Tekoa won’t be alone for long. It will form a hyphenated relationship with Rosalia beginning in the fall.
Oakesdale is on its own.
“It’s pretty disappointing,” Oakesdale athletic director Ken Lindgren said. “It’s been such a good cooperative. There was a lot of mutual respect throughout the course of the 31 years.”
The dissolution means the breakup of the volleyball program that won its third straight state title last fall.
“The day after Tekoa made its decision to dissolve, my wife and I had the volleyball team over to our house,” Lindgren said. “It was tough. The girls were shell-shocked and pretty broken up.”
The relationship between Tekoa and Oakesdale was something very personal to Lindgren and his wife, who are Tekoa and Oakesdale graduates, respectively.
“The joke is they had to wait for us to get married before the co-op could take place,” Lindgren said.
Tekoa, Oakesdale and Rosalia have had a three-way co-op in minor sports for about a decade. A year ago, Rosalia tried to convince the schools to make it a three-way combine in all sports.
The short story is Oakesdale opposed the proposal. That’s when Rosalia decided to go independent this year. Then last summer, Rosalia and Tekoa started talking about combining in all sports. Again, they offered Oakesdale an opportunity to join. Oakesdale declined.
So when Tekoa accepted Rosalia’s proposal – really does sound like marriage – Oakesdale approached Garfield-Palouse about combining. Gar-Pal’s big concern is it wanted to stay 1B and adding Oakesdale’s students (about 23) would make them 2B.
“It would have changed their athletic program big time,” Lindgren said.
When Gar-Pal declined, Oakesdale went back to talk to Tekoa and Rosalia about combining, but the schools said no thanks because they had set into works their new plan.
Lindgren said he believes Oakesdale will still be able to field a football team. But it will have to seek approval from the WIAA to allow eighth graders to play varsity. That probably shouldn’t be a problem since Lindgren is the WIAA executive board president this year.
Oakesdale’s initial apprehension about combining with Rosalia and Tekoa came down to playing time and opportunity for its athletes.
“It’s sad and unfortunate that we couldn’t work out those differences,” Tekoa principal Dan Hutton said. “I’ve got to respect Oakesdale’s decision. They believe they’re doing what’s best for their kids and Tekoa and Rosalia are doing what’s best for their students.”
The new arrangement will be called Tekoa-Rosalia. The students at both schools have come up with a mascot and new colors. The school boards will approve those soon.
T-R also decided it wanted to join the Northeast 2B league. Those schools voted unanimously last week to bring T-R on board. That means in football next year the league will have 11 schools – with Wilbur-Creston moving up from 1B and Kettle Falls dropping from 1A. The teams won’t need any nonleague games because they’ll have a nine-game league schedule.
In basketball, the league will have North and South divisions. Highway 2 will be the dividing line. Davenport, W-C, Reardan, Springdale, Kettle Falls and Northwest Christian will be in the North and T-R, St. George’s, Colfax, Liberty and Lind-Ritzville/Sprague will be in the South.
The NE 2B historically has been one of the best conferences in the state in all sports. It’s only going to get tougher.
“From Tekoa’s standpoint we’re looking forward to the change,” Hutton said. “We think there are some good things that will come out of this.”