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Hatchets co-op

The Stewardson-Strasburg school board voted not to continue the Windsor/Stewardson-Strasburg sports co-op.

STRASBURG — As those in the communities making up the Windsor/Stewardson-Strasburg co-op celebrate the Hatchets' run to the state softball tournament, a decision made on Wednesday guaranteed the co-op's days are numbered.

The Stewardson-Strasburg school board voted 4-3 not to renew the co-op at a special meeting Wednesday night. 

"We had negotiations for a few months and we needed to make a decision in order to move forward, Stew-Stras superintendent Michele Lindenmeyer said. "We tried to come up with something that both boards were agreeable with and we were not able to get there."

The sports co-ops are a two-year agreement and the co-op was approved for two more years prior to the 2017-18 school year. 

The Windsor school board had not voted on the co-op yet, though Windsor superintendent Erik Van Hoveln said his district was in favor of renewal. 

"The board was fully support of continuing the current co-op agreement," Windsor superintendent Erik Van Hoveln said."We are disappointed. It wasn't a total surprise, as negotiations had been going on between the two boards trying to come away with an agreement."

There were two meeting with two board members from Windsor, two from Stewardson-Strasburg, and administrators from the schools. That was followed by two meeting with school board members only.

"It (the co-op) is something you can kick down the road and kick down the road and our board felt like it was time to decide," Lindenmeyer said. "There has been a lot of turmoil in our communities and it was not a positive for the (co-op) to be in limbo. Both sides had some concerns and had some resolutions, and the board was unable to meet them."

In May of 2014 both school boards approved the W/SS Hatchet sports co-op for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons for all high school sports.

Van Hoveln said he's not sure what the next step is for Windsor athletics.

"We will let the dust settle and gather things up and to start planing what our sports program will be in the future," Van Hoveln said. "By the end of June or July we will try and figure out what direction we are going. The administration and school board will listen to the public in Windsor and Gays and see what the community wants and we will try and do our best for the student-athletes here at Windsor."

For Stew-Stras, Lindenmeyer said, "We will go back to being Comets and try and build the programs and provide opportunity for the kids. That is our goal."

Van Hoveln said the lack of a co-op could potentially limit the amount of games scheduled at the lower age levels.

"The co-op provided more opportunities for the kids as we had freshmen/sophomore and junior varsity games to help and both of those have been successful in the co-op," he said.

The volleyball and softball teams have been highly successful during the three years of the co-op.

The Hatchets volleyball team, under the coaching of Ronda Schlechte, finished second at the Class 1A state tournament last season, and also took third in 2016 and won a regional title in 2015.

The softball team made state this year under coach Craig Moffett. Last season, under coach Brittany Holsapple, the Hatchets went 28-5 and reached the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in Windsor or Stewardson-Strasburg history.

The baseball team, under Silas Pogue, has had three straight winning seasons, going 42-23 (.646), and the girls basketball program has gone 40-43, including 14-13 this year under Mariah Bolin. In boys basketball the Hatchets are 41-43 and have gone .500 every season in the National Trail Conference. Cody McCollum coached W/SS the first two seasons, while Austin Robinson coached last year. 

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Contact Mike Monahan at (217) 238-6854. Follow him on Twitter: @MonahanMikeJGTC

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