Group advocates Upsala/Swanville cooperative for all sports

School boards still exploring options as to what the schools should do

By Tyler Ohmann
Sports Editor
[email protected]

After an Upsala School Board vote turned down a proposal of pairing all Upsala and Swanville girls sports Nov. 12, the two towns began buzzing.
Then, the Swanville School Board began talking to Browerville about a potential union at its Jan. 6 meeting, and that forced a group of people to react.
The group of students and citizens from both Upsala and Swanville has created a Facebook page, a website (www.savethepatriots.com) and a petition.
“We heard about the possible pairing between Swanville and Browerville, and we were really alarmed,” said Aaron Ripplinger, an Upsala senior and one of the founders of the group. “We thought that there are probably a lot of people who do not really know what’s going on, so we did it to get the information out as quick as possible and get a lot of people talking.”
Ripplinger said that the group is concerned about numbers, especially in certain sports, and said that if the two schools do not pair, the schools will have to either pair elsewhere or cut activities.
“It’s more than just the experiences I’ve had, and that I know my friends have had,” Ripplinger said. “Between the two communities, I’d hate to see it go. With the pairing, we are able to stay competitive in sports, regardless of the class we’re in.”
The group is also concerned about uninformed or misinformed area residents, as he said rumors have run rampant.
“I want people to be informed, and talking to school board members is the best way to do it,” Ripplinger said. “I also want people to go online and on Facebook to help them realize that there are a lot of people who support this.”
The group plans to attend both the Upsala School Board meeting Jan. 28, and the Swanville School Board meeting Feb. 3.
Dean Peterson, chairman of the Upsala School Board, said that he is happy with the current arrangement, and said that, “We will consider additional pairings one at a time with input from the Upsala community, especially athletes and families involved who will obviously be most impacted.”
Other ideas, including a USA Patriots school campus located in Upsala, have also been considered.
As far as Swanville and Browerville are concerned, Peterson believes that is not the Upsala Board’s business.
He said he will abstain from judgment or intervening in the discussion between the two schools, but noted that the loss of the USA co-op would be a tough one.
Peterson said that a sweeping “all sports” or none proposal would likely not pass, which hurts groups like the one Ripplinger is a part of.
Swanville’s School Board is expected to discuss the possibility of pairing with Browerville at its Feb. 3 meeting.
Browerville and Swanville are 21 miles apart. Upsala and Swanville are 10 miles apart.
It is unlikely that decisions will be made at either of these meetings.