The student-run newspaper of the Liberal Arts and Science Academy

The Liberator

The student-run newspaper of the Liberal Arts and Science Academy

The Liberator

The student-run newspaper of the Liberal Arts and Science Academy

The Liberator

Rising in the Ranks

LASA Improves Its Athletic Standing
Kayla Le

The split of LASA’s athletics program from LBJ Early College High School (LBJ) occurred in 2020, just one year before the separation of campuses. Currently, LASA offers eighteen University Interscholastic League (UIL) sports and two sports that are not associated with UIL.

LASA made a massive leap in the Central Texas high school athletics rankings within the past year, moving up twenty-two places to rank 22. Thomas Jones, a writer for the Austin-American Statesman, wrote an article announcing this change. He attributes a large part of this jump to LASA’s athletic director Derrick Lewis’ direct involvement with the athletes across various sports.

“I was really impressed with Coach Lewis,” Jones said. “How he approached it [coaching], and how he worked with the kids. The thing with Coach Lewis is that he’s consistent with his approach each day in practice, and I’m sure each game, the kids know what they’re going to get from him. They know what the expectations are, and he has the same expectations for those kids in every practice.”

Jones used a mathematical formula called the Breazeale Cup to determine LASA’s athletic ranking. This system eliminates gray areas and subjective measurements when comparing LASA to other high schools.

“The Breazeale Cup is strictly mathematical points for qualifying for the playoffs, and for advancing the playoffs, regardless of the sport,” Jones said. “I would factor in, okay, who are they playing? How is the program progressing from last year? Do they have a lot of good players back? LASA finishing 22nd was pretty impressive.”

In Texas, LASA is considered to be one of the top five public schools in terms of academics, according to US News. Jones said that part of LASA’s athletic rank jump can be attributed to the discipline of academically driven schools.

“Having that discipline to make sure you get to practice every day, on time, retain what you’ve already learned from the coaching staff, and apply that to the next day in practice [is significant],” Jones said. “If you can get the discipline that a student shows in the classroom, studying, doing homework, listening to teachers, and apply that to athletics, you’re gonna have success. And you see that across the state. And I think you’re seeing that from LASA right now.”

Amelia Coleman

LASA moving into its own campus four years ago has given it the capacity to host more student athletes. As LASA’s athletic program grows, there has been more excitement surrounding the sport teams, according to LASA freshman and varsity tennis player Mahir Vallabhaneni. Vallabhaneni recognized that LASA was the perfect program for him after meeting former Varsity Boys’ Tennis Captain Milind Mutala and being recruited by other members of the team.

“I chose to join LASA tennis because of a kid named Milind Mutala,” Vallabhaneni said. “He was the captain at some point and he played some tournaments that I played in. After that, I went to POLO [tennis club] over the summer and met Rishi, Ted, and William. William got my number and contacted me regarding the team. Those were all factors in my decision.”

Last year, LASA won District 17-5A championships in boys’ soccer, softball, boys’ track, and team tennis, and several teams advanced to state, contributing to LASA’s increased athletic ranking. This year, even more LASA teams have high hopes for advancing far in the district, regional, and state competitions. According to Vallabhaneni, the tennis team in particular is predicted to go far once again, currently boasting an undefeated record.

“I think we are going to go undefeated the entire season,” Vallabhaneni said. “And maybe at state we might pick up our first loss, but hopefully [we still] go far.”

The tennis team’s 11-0 record includes major wins against schools like Austin High School and McNeil High School, both of which have 6A athletics programs that are much larger than LASA’s 5A program. LASA’s tennis program started three years ago and has skyrocketed ever since, with the team reaching the UIL state competition in the fall of 2022. According to Jones, tennis’s success is starting to be seen in equal measures in other LASA sports. For example, LASA’s football team has started the season off with a strong 4-2 record.

“The first year of athletics for LASA was three years ago,” Jones said. “They were ok. They were very good at tennis. And now you’re starting to see it [in other sports]. In baseball, they’re pretty good. In soccer, they’re still good. Their volleyball team is competitive, their soccer team is competitive. Basketball is getting better. Softball is getting better. The track team is getting better. So it builds momentum. I think kids see one program doing well and then that starts to bleed over into the other programs. So you get more kids, and the better you do, and it starts spreading to all the sports.”


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