By Greg Ritchie
EAST TEXAS – The University Interscholastic League (UIL) announced the newly reclassified and realigned sports districts for Texas schools Thursday, Feb. 1 in Kilgore. The realignment sets the divisions and teams for the next two years for all schools in the state.
While most local school athletic directors said there were no major surprises in the new lineups, there are always positive and negative aspects, from being pitted against teams far from the home district, to a realignment which can affect one sport in a positive way, to leaving another sport’s squad in a much tougher district.
The newly announced districts affecting area schools’ football programs are as follows:
- Palestine Westwood
- Mount Enterprise
- New Diana
- West Rusk
For a full list of school sports realignments, see the full list in today’s edition. Softball realignments are set to be released next month.
The Messenger reached out to some of our local schools to see how the coaches reacted to the football realignment, specifically.
“This time it kind of fell into place how we thought it might,” said Crockett Athletic Director and Head Coach Jody Jordan. “Everybody’s competitive and it’s going to be a good year for us, next year.”
Jordan said the revamped district wasn’t going to change the overall strategy of his coaching approach and staff.
“We’re going to be the smallest school in our division, again,” Jordan noted. “What matters for myself and the coaches with kids right now is to work extremely hard to get bigger, faster, stronger and more agile. We are building from the ground up, as a program, to get better in all sports. better it’s gone. You win in the offseason – even when you’re not playing a game, you’re always continuing to get better as an athlete.”
Grapeland ISD Athletic Director and Head Coach Jordan Wood said he is positive about the new district and the fact their schedule is already set.
“We’re really excited about our district and the way it all played out,” Wood said. “Our whole schedule is set now, and we were lucky and had some good coaches working with us and everything is set, as far as I know.”
Wood saw some positives in the realignment for the Sandies.
“Anytime you lose a ‘Timpson’ or a ‘Garrison,’ that definitely helps!’ Wood said. “Our basketball stayed relatively the same and with volleyball, it’s a small, five-team district.”
For Lovelady ISD Athletic Director and Head Coach Will Kirchhoff, the effort will stay the same, no matter which teams his Lions end up with in the two-year alignments.
“We can’t always control who we play, we can control how we prepare. We’re always preparing to play the best we can,” Coach “K” said. “I think they put us with people who we plan on facing in the playoffs at some point and we just put our kids in the best position for us to be successful.”
Coach “K” said no matter what the teams, it remains a small family of coaches who work together, putting together the schedules and making the season fun and competitive.
“The district we’ve been placed in are typically our sister districts we’ve played in other sports,” Coach “K” said. “We’ve got some familiar opponents I’m familiar with the coaches so everyone’s easy to work with because we know one another and it makes it much easier to deal with.”
Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected]