PORTER COUNTY CONFERENCE
In May of 1958, Harlan Siegesmund, principal of Liberty Township High School, called a special meeting of principals and coaches of the smaller county schools to discuss the possibility of an athletic conference. The "Founding Fathers" were: Karl Speckhard and Earl Grieger of Boone Grove, Myron Knauff and George Miller of Hebron, Walter Richards and Charles Kennedy of Jackson Twp., Melvin B. Taylor and Robert Gray of Kouts, Siegesmund and Dale Ciciora of Liberty Twp., Don Guilford and Elwyn Studer of Morgan Twp., James W. Dold and Harold Hanes of Washington Twp., and Buell E. Crum and Jim Bogan of Wheeler.
Harold Hanes headed a committee to write rules for high school athletics, while Charles Kennedy chaired a committee to formulate regulations for junior high sports. The spring and summer of 1958 was busy with the writing of a constitution, setting up a basketball schedule, and moving toward the election of a chairman and other officers.
Prior to the formation of the Porter County Conference, it appears that the schools of the county handled their athletic affairs in a somewhat informal fashion. Schedules were often discussed following county principal meetings with dates and times jotted down in a notebook. Contracts were often just a gentleman’s agreement and a handshake.
Despite the informal approach, the athletic situation in Porter County was actually deep rooted and can be traced back several decades. The Porter County Principals Association Tournament (basketball) was first played in 1923-24, with all county schools participating at some point. In 1932, the Porter County Baseball League was formed with a north county division and south county division. The winners of the two divisions played for the championship. The Porter County Track Meet was started in 1943. All of these events brought the county schools together for athletic competition. In October of 1953, the seven "smaller schools" of Porter County formed a boys’ basketball only league named, the Porter County Conference. Chesterton, Portage, and Hebron declined to join. The highly coveted "keg" was introduced for the 1957-58 basketball season. Although Hebron wasn’t a member of the conference they were included to participate in the competition for the "keg".
The increasing enrollments and athletic achievements of Chesterton and Portage prompted them to remove themselves from the Porter County Tourney. Chesterton and Portage had won 10 of the previous 12 championships. Chesterton also won 10 consecutive Porter County Track Meet championships. Portage was a perennial contender for the Porter County Baseball League crown.
With all of these circumstances, the formation of the Porter County Conference was the next logical step. Four sports were sponsored in 1958-59. Cross country, baseball, basketball and track were contested by boys only. At the time, girl athletes participated in the GAA (girls athletic association), which held monthly play days for girls to gather and participate in various games. The cross country and track champions were determined by winning the PCC meet. The baseball and basketball teams played a round robin schedule to determine the champion.
1968-69 was the last year for Jackson Twp. and Liberty Twp. to be members of the PCC. Both schools were absorbed into the Duneland School system. This was also the first year that a round robin championship was contested in cross country. A round robin schedule for track started in 1970-71. Hanover Central joined the PCC in 1972-73.
Porter County early recognized the coming growth of girls' athletics. Perhaps this was because of the Principal of Washington Twp. high school, James W. Dold’s active participation on the IHSAA Girls Athletic Advisory Committee for many years. In 1972 the IHSAA began a girls’ athletic program and the PCC did as well. In 1973, the conference wrote basketball and volleyball regulations for girls, with track starting a year later. A lot of thought and planning have gone into establishing the Girls Interscholastic Athletic Program. Paul Rommelmann, principal at Kouts High School, also is to be credited for providing the leadership in our conference and with the IHSAA in this effort.
The following women provided the know how and the work necessary to get girls sports off the ground: Jody Leek of Boone Grove, Carol Grady of Hanover Central, Nina Peregrine of Hebron, Jean Gesse and Linda Moses of Kouts, Judy Munson of LaCrosse, Sandra Flohr of Morgan Twp., Janet Davis of Washington Twp., Amber List of Westville, and Sue Knoll of Wheeler.
Volleyball and Basketball for the girls started in 1973-74. A boys’ baseball tournament was also started the same year. 1974-75 was the first year for girls track in the conference. The girls’ basketball victory "kup" was introduced during the 1974-75 season. Two schools, LaCrosse and Westville, were added to the PCC in 1975-76. The baseball season was also moved from fall to spring the same year. Boys' volleyball would be added in 1976-77.
Mental attitude has been a priority in Porter county athletics dating back to the 1930’s. Fred Cole, superintendent of porter county schools, began the tradition of giving a blue ribbon for mental attitude to one member of each team in the Porter County Tourney. The Porter County Tourney also gave a gold ball award to the best player in the tournament. The award would be changed in 1963 to the M. E. Dinsmoore award based on mental attitude. This prestigious award would be the basis for the mental attitude awards given out in each sport since 1978. Four other influential people in PCC history have been honored by having their name be associated with a mental attitude award: James W. Dold for girls basketball, Myron Knauff for boys track, Sandra K. Flohr for girls volleyball, and Donald E. Broughton for boys volleyball. Paul Rommelmann has also been honored by having his name be a part of the girls' all-sport trophy.
The 1980’s has been the only decade to see no change in the look of the PCC. Cross country for girls was started in 1993-94, while girls' softball was added in 1996-97. Westville left the conference following the 1997-98 school year.
In 2002-03 a boys' golf meet was added. This was also the last year for Wheeler to be a part of the PCC. South Central joined the conference the following year, 2003-04.
Sportsmanship, as well as mental attitude, has been a priority of the PCC. A code of sportsmanship was adopted by the conference in 1992. It states:
Interscholastic competition exists for its educational value. Although winning is important, the prime objective is to appreciate the educational and athletic development of our young people.
Spectators and participants are all guests at this educational experience and have a responsibility to uphold the ideals of good manners and sportsmanship.
We recognize that game officials do their best to make quick, fair, and unbiased decisions, and should be treated with respect.
Every competitor is worthy of our respect and should be treated with courtesy.
A true competitor is humble in victory and steadfast in defeat.
2007-08 was the 50th year of the Porter County Conference. Boone Grove, Hebron, Kouts, Morgan Twp., and Washington Twp. have been members every year.
Boys soccer was added to the PCC lineup in 2008-09 as a fall sport. A round robin champion and All-Conference team will be recognized. Six of the eight current PCC schools fielded a team during the first season.
The success of the PCC is evident in the fact that so many former players have come back to coach or be administrators in the conference. Although the enrollments and communities have grown since 1958, the same "small school" and "small town" feelings are still very apparent at every PCC contest.
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