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Schools and Competition
A brief history...

With schools across Northern Indiana reorganizing and consolidating in the 1960’s, the need to develop friendly interscholastic competition initiated early conversations concerning forming a new athletic conference.   The organizational meeting for the formation of the Northern Lakes Conference was held on February 3, 1963.  Charter members of the NLC were the high schools of Bremen, Manchester, Nappanee, Plymouth, Rochester and Warsaw.  The conference began competition in 1964-65 in the sports of Boys’ Baseball, Football, Basketball and Track.  In 1965, Boys’ Tennis and Golf were added; in 1966 Cross-Country; and Wrestling became a conference sport in 1968.  The conference was "intended to provide good, clean competition and fellowship for the boys, the coaches, and the school bodies of the Northern Lakes region."

The late 60’s saw new memberships in the NLC with Concord High School joining in 1967 and Wawasee High School in 1968.  By 1970, all school participated in all eight boys’ sports.  Nappanee became NorthWood High School in 1969.

The decade of the 1970’s saw girls’ sports come of age in the NLC.  Conference competition began in 1976-77 in Basketball, Tennis, Track and Volleyball.  In 1980 Swimming was added; 1986 Cross-Country; 1987 Softball; 1994 Golf; and 1997 Soccer.

Additional sports added to NLC Boys’ competition included Swimming in 1980 and Soccer in 1994.

Membership in the Northern Lakes Conference has fluctuated between six and eight schools throughout conference history.  In 1976, Manchester changed conferences.  1987 and 1989, Rochester and Bremen withdrew memberships to begin competition with school of lesser size and less travel than those of the NLC membership.  Additions to the Northern Lakes Conference were Goshen in 1976, and Northridge in 1987.  Elkhart Memorial begins competition in winter sports in 2000 and all other sports in 2001-02.

Today, the Northern Lakes Conference is recognized as one of the finest athletic conferences in the state of Indiana.  Competitions at the state level include NLC student athletes in most every sport.  Leading the state by example, the NLC initiated offering a formal coaching education course in 1991.  Today, NLC principals and athletic directors are regularly seated in governing bodies for athletic administration at the state level.  All conference schools have enjoyed tremendous fan following in every conference sport.  We are proud of our ability to compete with each other, challenge each school, and grow individually and as a conference.

The philosophy of good clean competition and fellowship for the boys has grown into meeting the needs of today’s student athletes.  Eight schools now compete in nineteen sports and recognize over 375 student athletes for outstanding achievements. The vision and purpose of establishing these rivalries by NLC founders in the early 1960’s continue to be the cornerstones as the Northern Lakes Conference enters the 21st Century.