When the University Interscholastic League powers-that-be rocked the erstwhile district world of the past two scholastic school years, the plans for 2012-13 reclassifications and realignments, released in February, had a dramatic effect on many. In most cases, former members of local districts were scattered to the UIL winds, while others, for good or bad, stayed the same.
Of course, the redistricting applied to football and basketball, the semi-annual primary attention getters when it comes to realignment. But while the UIL is changing student-population parameters and prompting coach and media gatherings on realignment day, it is also about the business of matching up district opponents in the other UIL-sanctioned sports.
These “lower-profile” sports — (not a term wisely used within earshot of a soccer parent — are often held to a different set of qualifiers, due to the hit-and-miss occurrence of whether the particular sport is played within a school district and the relative concentration of teams.
Organization of the diverse sports can lead to quite a different arrangement, in terms of the teams making up a district — or not. Sometimes the district members follow a logical order (though some coaches might question some of the logic), set forth by the football-basketball realignment. But other sports’ redistricting is less transparent, and may be the result of a hard-to-fix situation.
While baseball, softball and volleyball districts mirror most football opponents, virtually every UIL-member school plays the three sports. Soccer is gaining popularity, and becoming more prevalent with each year.
There are currently 250 basketball programs in 32 districts around the state in the 4-regioned Class 4A, for example. Soccer has produced 157 programs, with 25 districts playing in the 4A classification across just two regions. Doubling the numbers for boys and girls varsity teams (with few exceptions) and then doubling again for Regions III and IV gives a more accurate picture of participation, and the challenge of divvying up districts.
Many of participating programs in 4A, nearing the century mark, are actually Class 3A schools. There has been talk of creating a 3A division for soccer, with the option of 2A schools participating in the new division, but the UIL has yet to pull the trigger.
Though there are two districts solely made up of Fort Worth schools, Aledo soccer remained in District 12, which includes Springtown, who dropped from 4A to Class 3A. With the addition of two more schools to the mix, the conference stretches from Mineral Wells (also a 3A member) to Saginaw.
But the soccer structure is not consistent with Class 5A, unfettered by lower-division schools. Weatherford, like most schools in 5A, plays the same district foes comprised in the football and basketball districts.
The UIL made some headway with fixing some structures, particularly in wrestling. The swelled district membership, and theoretically the competition, in some areas were modified with the separation of Class 4A and Class 5A. Instead of the former District 8 inhabited by the Roos, along with a mix of 4A and 5A schools, including Azle and Springtown, Weatherford joins District 3-5A, a membership nearly identical to the football district, with the exception of Midlothian, who joins the conference in lieu of North Crowley, who has no wrestling program. Springtown wrestling, along with Argyle (another 3A school) joins Azle and a slew of other 4A schools in District 5-4A.
In Class 2A, football-playing Millsap experienced a significant change in its newly-designated and larger District 6 in Division II, facing all new conference foes with the exception of Rio Vista and Tolar. But the Bulldogs return to their usual opponents in virtually all other sports, rejoining Brock and Peaster.
With Springtown's drop to Class 3A, football, basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball and track & field will present 3A opponents, while they will yet face bigger schools in soccer and wrestling.
Comprehensive realignment information regarding all UIL-sanctioned sports can be found on the UIL website at www.uiltexas.org/athletics/.