Conference 18 gets a name, logo

Published 9:46 pm Tuesday, October 22, 2013

When the Virginia High School League executed a state-wide realignment this year, dividing the commonwealth’s public schools up into 48 conferences, it gave each conference a number with the option to come up with a name.

Conference 18, which includes Suffolk’s schools, has now become one of the few in Virginia to officially adopt a name. It was recently christened the Ironclad Conference, and last week, a logo was agreed upon.

The new logo

The new logo

“It fit the area,” said conference chairman and Nansemond River High School principal Thomas McLemore.

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The name was arrived at after each of the six schools in the conference submitted recommendations. A list of suggestions was formed, and each name had an explanation associated with it.

Of the nine options on the list, Ironclad Conference had the longest explanation. It cited the term “ironclad” as describing warships protected by iron or steel in the second half of the 19th century.

The ironclad ships, it noted, were very successful in the American Civil War. During that conflict, they patrolled the Nansemond, James and Hampton rivers. They eventually replaced all wooden ships and became the most powerful warships afloat for the time.

Each school in the conference had two votes, one from the principal and one from the activities/athletic director, but there was no controversy in the outcome.

“I think it was the clear favorite,” McLemore said of Ironclad Conference.

While something generally appropriate to the area was desired, he said the appeal of Ironclad was its flexibility to accommodate potential changes to the conference in the future. Some suggestions such as Peninsula-Suffolk Conference, only fit the conference as it is presently constituted.

If, for example, a team from Portsmouth or Chesapeake reached the appropriate school size to be placed in the same conference, such a specific name would need to be changed.

“We were looking at something that could live on,” McLemore said.

The other name suggestions included Tidal Conference, Two Bridges Conference, James River Conference, Three River Conference, Harbor Conference, The Roadstead Conference and Hampton Roads Conference.

Though the local conference now has a proper name, the number 18 will still be incorporated with it at the state level, at least partly because not all conferences have adopted names. The appropriation will be IC18.