Losing a Major Competitor: District Realignment Makes Serious Changes

Sydney Jones, Staff Writer

High school athletics in Texas are governed by the University Interscholastic League (UIL). High schools are placed into 1A through 6A divisions based on school size. 5A schools have student bodies ranging from 1060 to 2099, which means LASA is a 5A school. 

Within the class sizes, schools are divided into regions, sometimes areas, and then districts. Every two years, UIL realigns the districts. This year, that means Lockhart High School and Anderson will be moving out of LASA’s district, and LBJ and Eastside Memorial High School will be moving in. 

With Lockhart moving out of LASA’s district, it will only be Austin Independent School District (AISD) schools in district competitions. While Lockheart is moving out of the district for transportation purposes, Anderson is moving out due to its large school size. According to LASA’s athletic director Bryan Crews, this change will make transportation easier for athletes. 

“Lockhart [is] in our district as well, which is a great school, good athletic program, all those things, but it’s a bit of a drive, and it’s caused some transportation issues,” Crews said. “So our district this year will be more local and should help us with transportation. We’re losing Anderson because they’re moving up from 5A to 6A, and Anderson is almost double the size of LASA and all the other schools that they competed against when they were in 5A.”

Due to Anderson’s large school size, they had lots of enrollment to choose from when it came to teams. LASA doesn’t have the advantage of this, according to girl’s soccer coach Choe Cardinale. 

“Anderson didn’t lose a game,” Pendell said. “So that helps us, but LBJ comes in, who historically has been the best team in that district for a long time. And Lockhart was a team [in the basketball playoffs], and they’re going out and Eastside is coming in.”

This new realignment could change the outcome for certain sports going forward. Though some sports might not be that affected, others have a better chance of winning more in the future.

“It will give us the opportunity to finish higher in district and in a lot of our other sports that have already been dominant,” Crews said. “We’ll have more playoff teams next year than we’ve had [this year].”

Crews believes that although Anderson’s move opens up new opportunities for LASA athletics, it’s always beneficial to have a school that offers harder competition to keep athletes on their toes. Luckily, the realignment also brought in new schools into the 5A division to make up for this, according to Crews.

“I think the competition will be similar because most of the teams are the same,” Crews said. “There are some sports, like swimming and tennis, where our main competition was Anderson. So those sports are losing an opponent that probably pushed them more, was a little tougher. But then some sports like basketball and football are gaining LBJ, which is a traditional power in this area.”

Although the realignment might yield better results for LASA athletics, it also means it’ll be harder for them to improve without fresh competition, according to Cardinale. Cardinale said that this means that some sports might struggle if the level of competition suddenly gets higher.

“You always have your top schools and your bottom schools, and there’s not a lot of variation because of the way the zoning is in AISD,” Cardinale said. “So it’s fine to be at the top of your division. But once you get out of your division and go to the playoffs, it’s not fun to get run over. I think long term it’s actually going to hurt us.”

Regardless, Pendell believes that no matter what changes are made to district divisions, the main focus for him is to make sure his team is improving. Pendell believes it is best to focus on the positives this realignment brings and on working hard.

“The impetus to me is not who’s in our district, it’s that we have to get better,” Pendell said. “Being at the infancy of our program, we have a ways to go in terms of coming together and making sure we have all three levels, and just improving. I’m not really worried about who we’re going to play against other than what we can control.”

Nevertheless, Crews and Cardinale believe that these new divisions will mix up LASA athletics for better or for worse. These new realignments for LASA will go into effect for all sports in the 2022-23 school year.