Beckman Catholic will officially be joining the River Valley Conference, starting with the 2022-23 school year, ending a nearly 20-year affiliation with the WaMaC Conference.
Maquoketa joins Beckman in its exit from the WaMaC. With the two additions and North Cedar’s exit to the Tri-Rivers, the RVC will consist of 15 schools and be split into two divisions.
A proposed North Division will include Anamosa, Bellevue, Camanche, Cascade, Maquoketa, Monticello, Northeast and Beckman. Southern Division schools will be Durant, Iowa City Regina, Mid-Prairie, Tipton, West Branch, West Liberty and Wilton.
“This afternoon we received official word that our application to join the River Valley Conference for fine arts and athletics has been approved. This change will take effect with the 2022-23 school year,” said Beckman Principal Marcel Kielkucki in a statement released Oct. 6. “While many things will remain the same moving forward, there will be some changes as each conference handles scheduling and competitions in their own ways.”
Enrollment disparities and travel concerns led Beckman to seek RVC membership after Maquoketa floated the idea in the fall of 2020.
Beckman currently competes at the Class 1A/2A level, while the 13-team WaMaC Conference consists mainly of Class 3A/4A schools. Beckman is currently the smallest school in the league with an enrollment count for athletic purposes of 196, while the average school size in the WaMaC is 367, with enrollments ranging from 196 to 523.
Beckman’s enrollment will make it the ninth-largest school in the River Valley. The league’s average enrollment is 215, with a range from 157 to 370, including Maquoketa.
“Currently, we are the smallest school in the WaMaC Conference by over 100 students,” continued Kielkucki. “Particularly at our junior high level, we field one or two squads of players when many of our WaMaC schools have two or three levels at a minimum.”
Travel considerations make the RVC an attractive option. Beckman is over 100 miles from two WaMaC destinations — South Tama and Williamsburg — with an average conference-wide trip of 64.6 miles and divisional travel averaging 47.7 miles. River Valley travel will average 61.7 miles, with divisional trips 39.7. Only one school — Mid-Prairie at 110 miles — breaks the 100-mile trip barrier.
“As we look at future enrollment trends and travel times, the River Valley Conference was appealing, as it has schools of more similar size to us at a closer distance than many schools in the WaMaC,” stated Kilekucki. “While we may have been able to wait a few more years before switching conferences, the opportunity presented itself to join the River Valley this spring when North Cedar announced a move to a new conference and we received an informal invitation to submit an application. In two or three years when we know a move would likely be needed, that opportunity to join may not have been present, so our board approved this move at this time.”