For a quarter of a century, Bishop McNamara participated in an all-private school conference, one of the most advertised high school athletic conferences in the Midwest, the Chicago Catholic League, before the Fightin’ Irish moved to the Metro Suburban Conference in 2017.
Beginning in 2023, the Fightin’ Irish will once again take part in a conference surrounded by faith-based institutions, joining eight other private schools in announcing the formation of the Chicagoland Christian Conference on Friday.
McNamara will join Aurora Christian, Chicago Christian, Chicago Hope Academy, Chicago Christ the King Jesuit, Woodstock Marian Central Catholic, St. Edward Central Catholic, Timothy Christian and Wheaton Academy in a new nine-team conference.
“The newly formed conference is excited to maintain many longstanding rivalries and looks forward to creating new matchups. …,” said a press release tweeted by McNamara on Friday. “It will foster a balanced and competitive environment while placing particular emphasis on building the whole individual in mind, body, and spirit into the glory of God.”
After rumors of brewing among Metro Suburban Conference members began spreading earlier in the school year, three other faith-based MSC schools – Elmhurst Immaculate Conception, Wheaton St. Francis and Aurora Central Catholic – announced the month last that they would leave for the Chicago Catholic League. .
“We have one more year in the Metro [Suburban Conference], and we want to finish there because it was a good conference,” McNamara boys’ basketball coach Adrian Provost said. “It’s unfortunate that it broke up like this, but it’s exciting to be a founding member of the CCC and to help build something from the ground up.”
The CCC will feature many familiar faces, as McNamara will be joined by six other current MSC members in the new conference – Aurora Christian, Chicago Christian, St. Edward Central Catholic.
Together with Friday’s announcement from the CCC, that leaves current members of MSC Riverside-Brookfield, Elmwood Park, Ridgewood and Westmont without conference homes.
“Geographically the schools are somewhat far apart in the new conference, but we’re all very similar in every way in terms of size, being denominational, the way all schools do things. …,” the provost said. “With these six schools, relationships are already established and that’s what made it easy to get started.
“We made the decision to stay together and it just snowballed from there.”
As their press release and Provost indicated, the school is expanding geographically, spanning six counties. As members of the CCL and MSC, McNamara’s sports and extracurricular programs are accustomed to long travels.
And while Provost noted that the school has been trying to find closer lecture houses, the extra drive is worth the cozy house.
“There will be adjustments made to the schedules [to accommodate travel], but we’ve been traveling since the mid-1990s and it’s something we’re used to, and unfortunately we realize it’s a necessity,” Provost said. “There are local situations and conferences that we would have considered attending, but those are just not options for various reasons.
“The metro has been good for us and it’s a shame that it exploded the way it did, but the CCC is just us,” he added. “Other than geographically, it’s a perfect fit for McNamara.”