Ball is Officially in LASA’s Court

Sanwi Sarode and Annabel Andre

As LASA moves to a new campus following its separation from LBJ Early College High School, LASA students begin to prepare for the changes the upcoming school year will hold. LASA and LBJ athletics were separated last year in order to make the transition smoother, but this decision forced the LASA athletics department to adjust to a lack of facilities and staff — and of students. 

In his first year on the job, Bryan Crews, LASA Athletic Coordinator and Head Football Coach, had to supervise an athletic department in the face of COVID-19. Crews said that the past year held many obstacles for the athletics department and for himself.

“It was really challenging,” Crews said. “I had to hire staff that were current teachers at LASA that I didn’t have a relationship with because I never had an opportunity to do so. We had to figure out where to practice and where to have games. We were all over the city; we were using the Delco Center, Nelson Stadium, the Noack Complex, and even had to use some middle schools to get through our seasons.”

A lot of responsibility was placed on the athletics department during this last year. Students and coaches had to make it to practices and events at different facilities all over Austin. According to Crews, many coaches had to store equipment in their houses and carry it around in their cars. Having our own facilities on campus this year will make it a lot easier for coaches.

“For all of the coaches, it was a matter of getting to the different facilities when they were teaching at home during the day,” Crews said. “Once the school opened up again, the teachers were back on campus but still had to transport their program to different facilities because nothing was actually on the LBJ campus. It was sort of a nomadic existence in terms of athletics. The coaches definitely did have to go the extra mile to make everything work well.”

During the past year, access to facilities for certain sports was harder to arrange, so students, coaches, and parents drove to several different locations for practices and events. But this year, LASA has access to its own facilities. 

“It’ll be really nice to be able to have our own facility,” Crews said. “The gyms, the weight room, the track, the fields, all those things are in place for us already. It’ll be much easier.”

Athletes and students have yet to see the new campus. Countless students, including sophomore and soccer player Arden Randazzo, don’t know what will be different or what to look forward to. As a freshman, Randazzo didn’t spend any time on the LBJ campus, so they aren’t sure what will be different between the two campuses and how it will affect them or their sport. 

“I’ve only seen the layout of the building one time, so I don’t really know how it’s going to look for soccer,” Randazzo said. “I don’t really know if the new building will affect our team very much. It will in some aspects, but not much of it will change for me since this past year was my first year at LASA and everything was new to me.”

Although it won’t heavily affect some sports, the new campus does provide challenges for some, like the tennis team. LASA’s new campus only has four tennis courts, making it a lot harder for the team to hold their practices and host matches. Girls’ team captain and senior Jillian Evans-Strong isn’t sure what changes will need to be made to accommodate the new circumstances.

“Last year we did a lot of matches at our own campus, because we had eight courts,” Evans-Strong said. “I don’t think we have any home matches now because of how few courts we have, so that’ll definitely be different.”

Despite these problems facing tennis, currently, there is no permanent solution, so it’s best to focus on the positives, such as the potential for much more participation in athletics at the new campus. Due to LBJ’s dominance on teams in previous years, LASA students haven’t had as many opportunities to support their school through sports, but Crews predicts that since athletics are now composed of only LASA students, more students will be able to participate and represent LASA. 

“We will definitely get students out for sports that they hadn’t played for the school in the past,” Crews said. “I think this will grow as we get on a campus together again and I think the students will take a lot of pride in representing LASA athletics as opposed to LBJ athletics.”

The new campus gives coaches and athletes various things to look forward to, including new facilities for practices and home events. Crews most looks forward to students coming together on the new campus and hopes they will create a stronger bond with their teammates and school. 

“Having students on campus is definitely the biggest thing that I’m excited about,” Crews said. “Second, after that, is having our own facilities and being able to have more practices, all contained on our own campus.”

With the new year just around the corner, every sport is looking for new participants. Evans-Strong encourages fellow students to participate in sports and athletics at the new campus.

“I think that if there’s a sport you’re interested in you can just reach out to the coach or you could probably just show up at tryouts,” Evans-Strong said. “If you’re interested in something just go for it. I think a lot of the sports are looking for more players.”

Even with the past year posing numerous challenges for the athletics department, Crews hopes that athletics will be more accessible in the upcoming year. He believes that the benefits of the new campus, after a year of difficulties with COVID-19, will make it easier for students to connect with their teammates and represent LASA.

“We definitely encourage anyone who wants to give sports a try to come out and do it,” Crews said. “They get to be a part of something with their fellow LASA students. They’ll get to work out and improve their fitness level and have fun being a part of a LASA sport with their classmates.”