NEW ULM - After a 10-year membership in the Gopher Valley Conference, the Minnesota Valley Lutheran Chargers are returning to their roots as they will be rejoining the Southern Minnesota Conference in football beginning in the 2013-14 football season.
MVL along with Martin County West will be added as teams in 2013-14.
"This is good for our school," said MVL Athletic Director Craig Morgan, who saw his school end a 10-year membership with the Gopher Valley Conference. "Our enrollment has gone down a little bit and the (Southern Minnesota) Conference has done away with the enrollment limit in their constitution."
Morgan said that MVL looked at the pros and the cons of coming back before making the decision to switch.
"I am still very appreciative of and in debt to the members of the Gopher Valley Conference that stuck up for us 10 years ago when we wanted to come in and did not have a conference for football," Morgan said. "We have had some good games with some good rivals there - there were also a lot of good people that I got to work with as an athletic director."
Coming back to the Southern Minnesota Conference is basically coming back to the Tomahawk Conference, added Morgan.
Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop will now be the only Tomahawk Conference school that will not play in the Southern Minnesota Conference for football when the 2013-14 school year arrives.
"We are looking forward to it," Morgan said. "It is going to decrease our travel a little bit and the schools are familiar. We are excited about that part of it."
Charger football coach Jim Buboltz said that leaving the Gopher Valley Conference is sad in a way.
"The 10 years there was a lot of fun," he said. "There are a lot of good football teams there and there have been good role models to be around like Jon Bakken at Waterville and guys to look up to. It has only helped our football program and football team."
But Buboltz said that it is a real welcome to come back to the Southern Minnesota Conference.
"It is the old roots of the Tomahawk (Conference) and we are excited about coming back," Buboltz said. "There is no doubt about that."
This coming football season, the Chargers will be playing the teams in the Gopher Valley 1A division.
"Last year was our last year of playing the 2A teams," he said. "This year we have teams like Blooming Prairie and Lester Prairie Holy Trinity. They both had great years last year and they have good teams coming back. All in all it will get us ready for coming back to the Southern Minnesota Conference."
Buboltz also said that less travel will be one of the pluses of returning home to the Southern Minnesota Conference.
"It will be nice for the players to have less travel," he said. "We have a large number of parents who come from Mankato, so it will be different for them to travel west for football. But they are used to that from basketball. We will not have the real long bus trips now for conference play."
Perhaps one of the key things that will be rekindled with the return is the friendly rivalry between MVL and New Ulm Cathedral on the football field.
"Last year's playoff game between us and Cathedral is the way that high school football was meant to be played," Buboltz said. "That is another reason to be excited about coming back. Our playoff games last year against Sleepy Eye Public and then Cathedral is the way that football is supposed to be played. There were a lot of good memories, and we want to make more memories like that now."
VanRoekel named NSIC player of the week
Nate VanRoekel of New Ulm and Winona State was named the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference baseball Player of the Week.
VanRoekel went 14-for-28 at the plate with three home runs and 25 RBI. Of his 14 hits, nine were for extra bases.
In the second game of a doubleheader against Minnesota-Crookston, VanRoekel went 3-for-4 with a double, home run and seven RBI. He had an on-base percentage of .548 and a slugging percentage of 1.071 over the weekend.
Wyczawski at University of Texas-Tyler
Former New Ulm-ite Paul Wyczawski, now the head baseball coach at Texas-Tyler, has his team ranked 18th in NCAA Division III baseball.
His team has a record of 28-8.
Legion changes coming
Look for the Second District Legion teams to be re-zoned in the next week, with possibly Hutchinson and Waseca coming into the district. Also look for the 19-year-old rule that allows college players to return to play legion ball if they are still 19 to be changed in 2014.
New Ulm Cathedral graduate updates
As of Saturday, New Ulm Cathedral graduate Aaron Pfaff was hitting .313 for the St. John's University baseball team that was 19-9. Pfaff led the team in runs scored with 19 and walks with 15. He was 6-for-7 in stolen base attempts... Cathedral graduate Katie Larson was hitting .258 for the University of Sioux Falls softball team. She had 12 RBI... Cathedral graduate Morgan Zollner was 2-for-4 in the Iowa Lakes Community College softball team's 7-4 win over Northern Iowa Community College this last week.