By Michael Hicks
I’ve been openly critical of how the Colorado High School Activities Association decides which classification schools play in for various sports. Most of the time it is determined by enrollment size, but not always.
Berthoud High School, for a matter of fact, plays most sports in 4A. But the football team plays in 3A because most Colorado schools play the revenue-making sport, knocking the Spartans down to a competitive classification. Joining the football team in 3A this past fall was the boys’ soccer team.
Jeff Benjamin’s team normally would be required to play in 4A but was granted its request to move down after years of poor play. The result was a seven-win season that included a berth in this year’s 3A state playoffs.
Now why do I bring this up again? Well, I’ve got a good reason. You see last week I was reading my hometown newspaper, the Culpeper Star-Exponent, online and an article by Sports Editor Shane Mettlen caught my attention.
Mettlen wrote an opinion piece on how the Virginia High School League not once, but twice, denied Culpeper County High School, my alma mater, its petition to move down from Class AAA to AA. Since the early 1990s, CCHS has been in Virginia’s highest classification but this year the county opened a new school which drastically reduced Culpeper’s enrollment by half.
But that didn’t matter; Culpeper was stuck. Now to be fair, the VHSL only allows redistricting and reclassification every two years. Next year, CCHS will move to the Class AA Battlefield District with the county’s other school, Eastern View. But that hasn’t helped Culpeper this season.
The football team, like most fall sports, was horrid and the basketball teams are playing schools with more than 1,500 more students than Culpeper has.
Repeat that number with me. 1,500. That’s not a misprint. That’s the size of a small community in some rural areas. But, for now, my beloved Blue Devils are stuck playing schools with many more kids and many more options. That just seems wrong.
But rules are rules. That brings me to this: at least, the CHSAA has some compassion. While from a classification standpoint it didn’t have to grant Berthoud’s boys’ soccer team’s request to move down to 3A, it did for two years because that’s the only way the Spartans are going to improve their program when they do have to move back up in 2010. And as we saw this season, the move worked out pretty well.
Berthoud’s soccer team is on the way to redeeming itself after many years of struggling.
Just maybe the Virginia High School League could learn something from
CHSAA’s example. I hope for my alma mater’s sake they do, but it won’t help any this school year.