Every two years the University Interscholastic League accesses the enrollment figures from every school across the state to create new athletic districts and boundaries based on those numbers. Sometimes schools agree with the moves, most of the time they wonder what the UIL is thinking.
As of Monday, Texas high schools have new football and basketball districts under new boundaries. The UIL realignment can lead to shuffling of teams and a breakup of longtime district rivals.
This year’s realignment includes reclassifying the largest schools as Class 6A. Schools now playing six-man football will move up to Class 1A. The districts take effect starting with the 2014 high school football season.
Melissa and Anna are both currently playing football in Class 3A, Region II, District 12. They are five miles apart and with schools similar size, it seems like a logical choice.
The UIL disagreed.
In their football districts, Anna and Melissa are no longer in the same region — much less district. Both programs will be in Class 4A, Division 2 with Anna in Region 1, District 3 and Melissa moving into Region 2, District 5.
"You never know what the UIL will do when it comes to realignment," Anna Athletic Director Jason Heath said. "Strange seeing Melissa in Region II and us being in Region I when we are five miles apart."
Before Monday, most schools already knew where they would play because the UIL announced enrollment cutoff figures in December, but the final announcement often still brings a few surprises.
Anna’s football district will include Aubrey, Bonham, Bridgeport, Celina and Krum.
"The new district will definitely require more travel," Heath said. "It will not affect the varsity football team as much as it will the sub-varsity and middle school since those will be on Thursday nights. Most likely other sports will follow basketball district, but won’t know for sure until they release that, which will make it difficult during football and volleyball season because we always have some students who are in volleyball and then participate in cheerleading and band. Anytime there is change we will have to work through some issues but we will always strive to do what is best for our student athletes here at Anna."
Melissa will be putting the miles on the buses, facing opponents in Bullard (144 miles), Canton (90 miles), Emory Rains (65 miles), Gilmer (116 miles) and Nevada Community (32 miles). Anna’s furthest opponent is Bridgeport at 78 miles one way.
"I think it affects the school because you have to start new rivalries with a group of teams we haven’t played before," Melissa Athletic Director Seth Stinton said. "What the UIL does shouldn’t surprise anyone but I was a little shocked. A team that is five miles north of us is in a different district and region and a team that is east of us is in a different district and region. Doesn’t make a lot of sense."
Every other sport, soccer not included, will most likely follow the basketball district, which is 12-4A for Anna and Melissa. The new district will look very similar to the current 12-3A district of Anna, Bonham, Melissa, Nevada Community and Princeton with the addition of Quinlan Ford.
Stinton reported that Melissa will be starting a soccer program this next year. Anna, Princeton and Bonham already have soccer going but those districts are not released until April.