Halcyon Days

Columns and reflections by Terry Britt

Archive for February 2010

Hooray For Realignment Day

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This one is for all the followers of Texas high school sports.

Monday was the most anxious day of this school year for high school athletic directors, coaches, student-athletes and fans — UIL Realignment Day.  Every even-numbered year in early February, the University Interscholastic League in Austin announces which schools will be in what classification and the district lineups within each of those classifications.  Speculation always runs rampant as to which schools might be moving up or down among Class A to Class 5A, and what schools will become their new district opponents for the next two years.  No one knows but the people at the UIL office and that information is guarded more tightly than a nuclear testing site, it seems.

So Monday came the big reveal for school years 2010-11 and 2011-12.  The biggest surprise to me?  For the first time in 20 years, the minimum enrollment number for the largest classification (Class 5A) went down, by 20 students to be exact.  While that may not sound like a lot, it was large enough to pull Denton Guyer from Class 4A to Class 5A for the first time in that school’s brief existence (it opened in 2005).

Of no surprise at all is the continued drop in enrollment, and thus classification, of several urban schools.  Someone pointed out that Dallas ISD will be down to just four schools competing in Class 5A and Fort Worth ISD continues to have Paschal as its lone ranger in 5A.  Both urban school districts also had a school drop from 4A to 3A this time around.  High-growth suburban and extended suburban areas opened new high schools to differing effects.  In Wylie, TX (northeast of Dallas), the opening of Wylie East (4A) was enough to pull Wylie High back to 4A from 5A; North Forney (3A) did not have the same effect on Forney High (still 4A).

On a personal note, I have to say I was very happy with how the UIL’s tumblers clicked in the area I have to deal with in my reporting work, the hinterland between Dallas and Tyler.  Not only did the three Class 3A schools in Van Zandt County — Canton, Van and Wills Point — remain together in a district for another two years, but they also will be joined by the other Class 3A high school I cover, Quinlan Ford.  Nearby Rains County and Lindale (dropping from 4A) join in, making for a very good and very compact new district.

Some schools only wish they had it so good.  DeSoto, a Class 5A school southwest of Dallas which must (for yet another two years) travel all the way to Tyler and Longview for district games, comes immediately to mind.

Another disappointed bunch would be the football coaches in the smaller Class 2A and Class 1A.  The UIL opted for a split division format (again, based on enrollment) within those two classifications for the entire season, not just in the playoffs as is the case with Class 4A and Class 5A.  That was not the complaint heard around the area, though.  It was rather the reduction of playoff spots from three per district to two, cutting the Class 2A and Class 1A postseason field statewide from 96 to 64 teams (32 districts x 3 teams vs. 16 districts x 2 teams in 2 divisions).

If you want to check out the new districts for yourself, you can do so at http://www.uil.utexas.edu/

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Written by terrybritt

February 2, 2010 at 5:33 pm

Back From Hiatus

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Well, it has been awhile, although I didn’t really plan it that way.

Posting here kind of fell by the wayside since early August — I imagine it happens to a lot of bloggers whose activity is not directly connected with their job — and weeks turned into months, six of them.  After a high school football season in which providing local newspaper coverage became much more grueling than necessary, November elections followed and then came the whole holiday song-and-dance.  January came and went with sub-freezing weather except for one week, which featured a tornado running through the county.

Now, here we are in February, the weather here in East Texas still bobbing up and down the thermostat and local primary elections around the corner in four weeks.  It’s not the election year I thought it was going to be around here.  In Van Zandt County, Texas, there will be only two local office elections in November because that matches the total number of people running as a Democrat.  I can’t remember a local election year in 27 years of newspaper journalism in which nearly all the suspense would be gone by April (the time for any run-off elections).

On the other hand, I’m very happy because I am looking forward to Valentine’s Day less than two weeks away.  That is something of a drastic change for me, but that is the result of a very lovely young woman walking up to me at a local winery and inviting to me sit and chat with her.  Destiny or dumb luck?  It matters not to me.  I’m too busy basking in what has been three months (and counting) of truly being enriched by the love, affection and caring of another, and returning it in kind.

There is more to life than press deadlines and politics.

Thank God for that.

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Written by terrybritt

February 1, 2010 at 11:16 pm