Stephen F. Austin High School's Newspaper "The Maroon"

The Maroon

Stephen F. Austin High School's Newspaper "The Maroon"

The Maroon

Stephen F. Austin High School's Newspaper "The Maroon"

The Maroon

UIL Realignment

A Major Shift in Austin High’s Sports

Every two years, the University Interscholastic League (UIL) releases new alignments that dictate who’s playing with whom. This February, the 2024–2026 alignment was released, which will be enacted next year. 6A is the biggest division, created for schools hosting over 2,000+ students. Currently, 247 schools are a part of this division across Texas, with every single one hosting a football team. According to Mr. Jeremy Villarreal, a coach here at Stephen F. Austin High School, “It can determine our chances of making the playoffs and stuff like that, but at the end of the day, it’s up to the program to be great regardless of who they’re playing.” 

 

What are the reasons for all these alignments? The divisions were created to promote fairness in notable sports like football, basketball, soccer, or volleyball. This separation prevents small school teams from being dominated by larger schools with thousands more students. Coach V stated, “First, they check enrollment; once they divide it up by enrollment, they just do by closest location. So they put it up by 6A, and then from there, the closest 6A schools to us are in our district.”

 

 The need for these biannual changes has been required for a long time now. Often, schools rapidly grow or shrink in size due to migration and other population growth, creating inequality when facing off against previously equal teams. Seeing this issue, UIL put in place divisions for public schools all across Texas. This needed division prevents a 4A school from competing in a 1A division. 

 

Stephen F. Austin has been through a number of these cycles, changing which teams we play each time and how many teams are in the total division. Coach V stated, “I’ve been here for 3 years, this is my second realignment that I’ve seen. The first one put us in a nine-team district the last two years, which makes it pretty difficult on our programs to be in the top four, but this upcoming cycle is a seven-team district, which is a little pressure off of being perfect in district play to make playoffs.” Each shift in division completely alters how Austin High will fare in that year, making these cycles even more important.

 

Austin High School is a part of the 6A district, pitting us against Bowie, Akins, Westlake, and other competitive teams with large schools and sports programs in the division. However, many of these schools enroll thousands more students than Austin High. Many parents, students, and faculty feel that the school needs to drop down to the 5A district for a better chance in sports, potentially growing popularity among students and motivation for the players. According to Coach V, “I think the challenges they face is that we have less kids overall participating, so there is more ask from our student-athletes than other schools.” A drop in divisions would allow Austin High teams to compete with other schools that share similar resources and student populations. This would create more competition, success, and recognition. However, Austin High barely fits in the 6A category, leading to resistance from other 5A schools if the migration occurred. Coach V also stated, “It’s a challenge because some of the other schools have more students than we do; we are in the smaller end of 6A, but at the end of the day, it makes the competition more exciting, and I think it’s better for our players.” It’s up to UIL to determine if a switch in divisions is just and necessary for Austin High or if we need to continue competing with schools much larger than our own.

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