In mid-January, Enterprise Superintendent of Schools Brad Royse sent letters to both the Wallowa and Joseph school districts informing them that the Enterprise district no longer will allow athletes from those two schools to participate in EHS sports programs without monetary compensation.
According to EHS track and cross-country coach Dan Moody, Wallowa athletes have piggybacked on the two Enterprise teams for the past three years and Jo-Hi has done the same in the fall sport of cross-country for seven years.
Royse has not yet received written responses from the schools as requested, but says he has been given a verbal commitment from Wallowa Superintendent Bret Uptmor that WHS will pay the extra money that will allow an estimated four Cougar athletes to compete with the Enterprise track team this spring.
Im reasonably sure that Wallowas track athletes will compete in Enterprise this year, Royse says.
Royse did not know the amount per student EHS will charge Wallowa track athletes this spring, explaining he will need to know the number of athletes competing in the program before that figure will be known.
He stated in the mid-January letter that EHS only will charge such athletes for a percentage of transportation costs this year, but will charge the two districts proportional costs for the individual sports programs in future years.
A cross-section of co-ops
How the three small high schools in Wallowa County co-op their sports programs is, to say the least, a bit unusual.
In fact the Wallowa High School baseball team goes outside Wallowa County and co-ops with Imbler, about 35 miles away in Union County. For baseball, Joseph co-ops with Enterprise.
For the girls sport of softball, Wallowa plays alone and Joseph and Enterprise co-op their team.
For both baseball and softball, the schools compete in the 2A/1A category that includes the smallest schools in Oregon.
Track, another spring sport, is different in that Wallowa and Enterprise co-op their teams and Joseph has its own track team. The same co-ops exist for the women as exist for the guys. The Enterprise-Wallowa track teams compete in the 2A division and the Joseph track teams in the 1A division.
The spring sport of golf offers one additional twist to cooperative sports among Wallowa County schools. While the two county teams compete in the 3A/2A/1A category for boys and the 4A/3A/2A/1A category for girls, Enterprise competes separately for the boys while Joseph and Wallowa co-op their boys team. On the girls side of golf programs, Joseph does not have a team and Enterprise co-ops with the Wallowa girls.
The only sport where all three teams co-op together is cross-country, and only then in the boys division. Because Wallowas girls do not field a cross-country team, a co-op exists between Enterprise and Joseph for the girls.
Although its not easy for local sports fans to keep track of the mish-mash of co-ops among Wallowa County sports teams, the various arrangements do produce some benefits. One, for example: the boys and girls cross-country teams compete in the same 3A/2A/1A division.