Newsflash: St. Michael’s no longer in District 2-3A. Is it possible? Can it be real? Are there some people doing somersaults of joy? What would you say if this is a possibility?
Well, for those who would like to see this, you might get your wish, that is if a new alignment and classification proposal by the New Mexico Activities Association is approved by New Mexico school superintendents and the NMAA Board of Directors.
And what is the reason for all this? The NMAA calls it a need for balance among the districts, according to executive director Gary Tripp: “We have created balance within all the districts having four schools in as many sports as possible. We have also felt in listening to the membership that a district comprised of mainly private schools allows the public schools in District 2-3A to feel like they are receiving fairness in district competition. Competing for a seed and advancement to state will be demonstrated as a fair solution between the public and private schools within our membership. Lastly, this is a proposal from the NMAA staff that still must make its way through the membership and the Board of Directors. It is still subject to changes.”
Changes? Let’s examine the proposal and how it would affect Robertson and West Las Vegas. Here is the way the new proposal reads. In football, the NEW District 2-3A would have West, Robertson, Pojoaque and Raton. St. Mike’s would move to what is the NEW District 4-3A and will include St. Mike’s, Hope, Ruidoso and Socorro. In basketball, District 2-3A holds with the same four teams as would be the case in most sports like volleyball, while the “private school district” will include East Mountain, St. Mike’s, Hope, Sandia Prep and Santa Fe Indian School. The same alignment holds true in baseball. In volleyball, St. Mike’s and Santa Fe Indian School would join Hope and Sandia Prep in District 4-3A. Cross country would also see a change as Pojoaque, West and Robertson make up District 2-3A, while St. Mike’s and Santa Fe Indian will run alongside East Mountain, Hope and Sandia Prep. Even golf is affected as in Class A-AAA would now see Robertson and West golf with Desert Academy, Moreno Valley, Raton, St. Mike’s and Tucumcari. In soccer, District 1 would now consist of Moreno Valley, Pojoaque, Robertson and West. St. Mike’s would pop over to District 4 with Hope, Rehoboth and Sandia Prep. Softball would see the foursome of West, Robertson, Pojoaque and Raton. St. Mike’s and Santa Fe Indian School would be jumping to District 3-3A with East Mountain, Hope and Sandia Prep.
So how do the two local athletic directors, Mike Yara (Robertson) and Jose Medina (West) think this would affect the local high schools as well as the district?
“This realignment will have a negative impact on our district with the loss of St. Mike’s and Santa Fe Indian School to another district,” says Yara. “Our district is the toughest district in 3A, and a big part of that is the great competition between the schools in our district. When our teams advance to state competition they are well prepared because of district play and are able to compete with anyone at the state level. State championships and placing at state have less significance when some quality schools leave 3A.”
Jose Medina echoes Yara’s comments and adds, “The proposal will hurt WLV because it will take schools out of our district and cut us down to four teams. We would have to travel further to find teams to make up for loss of games. Our district competition level will get watered down with the new proposal.”
Both directors also agreed that the NMAA needs to revisit the proposal as far as enrollment cutoff numbers and competition awareness. “The NMAA needs to find a proposal that is more consistent and fair to all schools and sports,” adds Medina. “They need to take competition and tradition, like rivalries into account.”
Yara explains how the numbers game plays a part as well as balance: “The current alignment (2008-2009 and 2009-2010) has all of the classes somewhat balanced as far as the number of schools in each class. I feel that this alignment is a fair alignment for all schools and classes in New Mexico. The proposed alignment will shift the classes where class 4A will have significantly more schools than class 3A and 5A, which makes it unfair for class 4A. The NMAA should change the cut-off numbers to make the classes equitable or as close to equitable without causing extreme hardship to schools that have to travel great distances. We live in a large state with a small population, so we all have to accept that travel is necessary.”
For years now some people of this community have been screaming for such a move. For years some people have requested for an all-private school district. They feel moving St. Mike’s out will, as Gary said earlier, make West and Robertson “feel like they are receiving fairness in district competition.”
But what about the competition factor? Some say that it does not matter whether a school like St. Mike’s is in our district or not, because we will play them anyway in the state tournament. Fine, then we will play them in the opening round.
Medina mentioned the rivalry factor. Truth be told, everybody in this district counts St. Mike’s as a rival. Most will say that to win a district title, the road goes through St. Mike’s. This may or may not be true, but the fact remains moving St. Mike’s out creates problems other than in the athletic arena.
Yara and Medina bring up valid points. They look at it as what is in the best interest of their schools; competition, travel and having to add new schools to complete their schedules. Gary Tripp as well has valid points as he looks at it as balance of district competition, allowing for other schools to have an opportunity to advance to the state tournament.
Which way do you see it? One thing to keep in mind as a reminder — this is not official, for it still has to pass a vote of the NMAA Board of Directors.
To read the entire proposal, log on to the NMAA Web site at www.nmact.org.
Tripp — out!
Richard Tripp is a longtime local educator who writes sports stories for the Optic. His brother Gary is executive director of the NMAA.