Back to the Big 9 Conference for Northfield

  • Article by: RON HAGGSTROM , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 16, 2013 - 7:19 PM

One of Minnesota’s very own, Bob Dylan, wrote “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” The song now pertains to Northfield athletics.

The Northfield school board unanimously approved the school’s decision to move from the Missota Conference to the Big 9 Conference for the 2014-15 school year. Earlier, another Missota school, Red Wing, was also approved acceptance in the conference. There would be 12 schools in the conference.

Northfield, which was a member of the Big 9 until 1970, now awaits approval from that conference at its executive board meeting on May 8. The other schools in the conference are Albert Lea, Austin, Faribault, Mankato East, Mankato West, Owatonna, Rochester Century, Rochester John Marshall, Rochester Mayo and Winona.

“Northfield High School is excited about rejoining the Big 9 and have already built a strong relationship with these schools as Northfield High School has been a member of Region 1 for years and most of the Big 9 are in this same region,” Northfield Athletic Director Tom Graupmann said. “We are hopeful this will be an affirmative vote.”

Graupmann has also hired Lakeville North girls’ basketball coach Andy Berkvam to take over the boys’ program at the school. The highly-thought-of Berkvam graduated from the school in 1981.

“It feels like a coming-home party as Andy is a Northfield High School graduate, is in the athletic Hall of Fame, and still possesses a great deal of community pride,” Graupmann said. “Coach Berkvam knows how to organize and run a program with him being the catalyst behind the building and then the success of the Lakeville girls’ basketball program. We are thrilled to have him back.”

At Lakeville, and later Lakeville North when the district split into two high schools in 2005, Berkvam won three state championships (2001, 2002 and 2010) while registering over 400 career victories.

Berkvam thought about taking over the same position at Northfield two years ago, but decided to coach his daughter (Cassie) her junior and senior seasons. He replaces Andy Jaynes, who stepped down in March.

“I always knew if the opportunity presented itself to go back home and coach that I would,” Berkvam said. “The timing is right for my family as I will have three daughters in college and can raise my youngest daughter in Northfield. We came close to making the state tournament in 1981 and my goal is to take Northfield back to a state tournament some day.”

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