The year was 1968, and the beginning of a new conference was taking shape. Representatives from 7 schools met to form the new Blue Chip Athletic Conference. The original 7 schools were: North Daviess, Barr-Reeve, Bloomfield, Loogootee, North Knox, South Knox, and Springs Valley. Before the year was out, Mitchell was also welcomed to the conference.
There have been “comings and goings” over the years as North Knox left at the end of the 1977 school year, before later returning in 1988. Mitchell and Springs Valley left in 1978 and 1979 respectively to join the Patoka Lake Athletic Conference. While those 3 schools exited, Northeast Dubois, Shoals, and Vincennes Rivet joined in 1977 and Washington Catholic entered in 1979. In 1984, Forest Park joined the conference. They later left in 2007 for the Pocket Athletic Conference. Bloomfield left in 1985 as did North Daviess in 1986 to join the Southwest Indiana Athletic Conference. In 2000, Wood Memorial joined the conference, setting the current conference line-up at 9 schools.
Nine state titles have been won to date by schools that were in the Blue Chip Conference at the time of the championship. Forest Park won a state title in Class 2A Girls Softball in 2001 and added titles in Class 2A Boys Basketball in 2005 and 2006. Loogootee won a Class A Boys Basketball title in 2012 as did Barr-Reeve in 2015. Barr-Reeve also added state titles in Class A Girls Volleyball in 2013 and 2018. Other Girls state titles have been won by Vincennes Rivet and Wood Memorial, in Class A Girls Basketball in 2011 and 2017 respectively. Individual state titles have been won by Washington Catholic’s Chris Dayton in Boys Golf, Barr-Reeve’s Connor Sorrells in Boys Cross-Country, and Kathy Smith of Vincennes Rivet in the Discus for Girls Track and Field.
Some great names have graced the conference’s coaching ranks as Loogootee’s Jack Butcher, Springs Valley’s Jim Jones, South Knox’s Sam Alford, North Knox’s Howard Sharpe, Bloomfield’s Guy Glover and Steve Brett, Barr-Reeve’s Joe Todrank and Dave Omer, and Mitchell’s J.R. Holmes are all members of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. Tricia Cullop of North Knox (player) and University of Evansville and Toledo University (Head Coach) also graces the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. The Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame includes Loogootee’s Tim Nonte and Barr-Reeve’s Joe Rademacher. Rich Graves of Loogootee can be found in the Indiana Tennis Hall of Fame. Perhaps the two most successful track/cross-country coaches of the Blue Chip Conference era are Vic Betz of Northeast Dubois and Bob Swank of South Knox.
There have been some amazing athletes to grace the various sports rosters at Blue Chip Conference schools. To name just a few: Springs Valley’s Larry Bird, Loogootee’s Mark Riggins an outstanding pitcher and later a pitching coach in the major leagues, Nevin Ashley of North Knox who reached the major leagues in baseball after a long and successful minor league career, Dan Beery also of North Knox won a gold medal in the Olympics in Men’s Rowing, and Johnnie Bartley of Wood Memorial was a 2-time National AAU champion in the High Jump and was a part of 5 Big Ten Track and Field Championships at Indiana University. Kelly Lane Clauss of Vincennes Rivet is in the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame as a player and won 2 Elks National Free Throw Championships in addition to being named to the 2008 Silver Anniversary Team. Four-time Blue Chip Conference golf medalist and South Knox/Purdue alum, Adam Schenk qualified for his PGA Tour card for 2019.
These are just a few of the “best of the best” in conference history. There have been many, many others who have coached or played at a high level beyond the general high school ranks, Indiana All-Stars, collegiate stand-outs, etc., and there will no doubt be many more to come. The Blue Chip Conference has a strong history and a bright future.