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Editorial: Conference change is good for FHS

There was a little hesitation Monday when the Farmington School Board discussed a possible move to the South Suburban Conference.

Echoing concerns she said she'd heard from other parents in the district, board member Julie Singewald raised the possibility that a move from the relatively small-school Missota Conference to the larger schools of the South Suburban might hurt participation in sports at Farmington High School.

Bigger schools, the theory goes, will mean tougher competition. Tougher competition will mean more losses. And more losses will mean students who would rather look elsewhere for their athletic outlets.

It's a reasonable worry. Farmington is currently the second-biggest school in the Missota. Based on current enrollment it is the fifth-biggest school in the South Suburban. The move will mean tougher competition in several sports. Wrestlers will face off against national power Apple Valley on a regular basis.

Those concerns aside, though, we believe the move is a good one for Farmington. For one thing, while FHS is currently in the middle of the SSC pack size-wise, it is growing while some of the other South Suburban schools are either holding steady of shrinking. As athletic director Jon Summer said, Farmington is starting to look more like its SSC neighbors than Missota schools like Red Wing and Northfield.

For another thing, those schools truly are neighbors. The average one-way trip to a SSC school is 12.6 miles. The average trip to a Missota school is more than 27 miles. That's a lot of money spent on gas and a lot of time for students to spend on the road.

Finally, we agree with Summer when he says there is value for students in struggling through a challenging season. Tennis coach Jack Olwell, whose teams have rarely had much success in win-loss column, talks often about the positive experiences his players have. And win or lose, football coach Mark Froehling has a well-deserved reputation for making sure his players learn more than just blocking schemes and pass patterns.

It is parents' job to some extent to make sure their children know they're not just playing for wins. It's coaches' job to make sure that is true.

Then, of course, there is the uncertain future of the Missota even if FHS sticks around. Other schools have already talked about leaving. If too many go, the conference might not be around much longer.

There might be some rough times in the early years, but as Farmington grows it should benefit from the change.