FLINT (WJRT) - UPDATE: (04/20/17) - Two schools, both with rich histories, now combining into one team.
Thursday, with those memories fresh in their minds, former players and longtime Flint school supporters are reacting to the merging of high school athletics.
They admit it's going to take some adjustment, and while some consider the move premature, they're hoping it will eventually help the District improve overall.
"We about 10 or 15 years out right now, it don't look like you consolidate schools, don't look like that your problems is solved. Your problems are really just beginning," said Flint-native and graduate of Flint schools, Norman Bryant.
He tells us it's going to get worse before it gets better.
"They're saying, ‘Well, we can save money and less referees,’ all this kind of stuff. It's not about saving money. What about these kids?" Bryant said. "Now you gonna send a kid, he's gonna be a senior, he's going over to Southwestern that used to be his rival? How are you gonna adjust to that? How are these families going to adjust to that?"
Bryant says a big problem is there's a lack of school pride across the district.
"We had kids, they lived and ate football. They lived sports in Flint and wanted to be like the guy, their predecessor that went ahead of them, but you don't have that now," Bryant said.
To bring that back, former basketball player and Southwestern graduate Luke Lloyd says the move to one high school should have happened first and along with that needs to come improved facilities for the teams.
"We're not moving forward, we're kind of holding onto what we used to be," he said. "Ultimately, we should be moving forward to what we can be, what we should be."
Lloyd added with practices being divided between the two campuses, the student's school work could take a hit, too. He says they'll be on the road more and have less time to study and get homework completed.
(4/19/2017) - They were once powerhouse Flint sports teams --and rivals. But next fall Northwestern and Southwestern Academy will field one team.
The Wildcats and the Knights are about to become teammates as Flint schools vote to consolidate their athletes and resources.
These two schools both have storied athletic programs that over the years have produced the likes Mark Ingram Jr. and Kelvin Torbert, just to name a few.
Wednesday night Flint Community Schools Athletic Director Jamie Foster tells us the decision to consolidate was driven - in large part - by the desire to make the city high schools' program more competitive.
'We're going to go down to one athletic team, one football team, one basketball team, one softball team," explained Jamie Foster.
Wednesday night the school board voted to approve an agreement with the Michigan High School Athletic Association that states the Flint Community High Schools will be participating in a "cooperative" athletic program in grades 9 through 12 next fall.
The change means fewer coaching jobs, and some additional cost savings in regards to fewer buses and lower administrative costs..
But Foster says the move to combine resources was mainly driven by the desire to gain a competitive edge and field sub varsity teams:
"We're trying to compete with schools that have one high school, and have much larger populations than we do..." Foster noted, " so this consolidation will make us a little more competitive."
So gone are the days of the Green and White Wildcats and the days of the Blue, Gold and White Knights. The new colors will be teal and black.
Students, however will have a say in what the new mascot will be and athletic activities will be divided between the two campus with an "activities" bus shuttling students back and forth.
The district says it plans to re-interview for all athletic positions and all athletic jobs will be reposted.
Superintendent Bilal Tawwab remarked, "“There’s a very storied athletic past here in Flint Community Schools and we definitely want to return it to greatness”
The two rival schools have already consolidated in regards to swimming, wrestling, and baseball - so far Foster says everyone's getting along.