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The Advocate and Democrat.

Monroe County schools await TSSAA fate

Published: 10:21 AM, 11/14/2012 Last updated: 2:48 PM, 11/14/2012

Author: Brandon Keys
Source: The Monroe County Advocate

The TSSAA will hold the annual meeting Nov. 15 on deciding the fate of high school athletic departments over the next four years. The organization is tasked with making recommendations to the elected ed district representatives on how and why certain teams should be placed where. The representatives then vote in the best interest of schools in their district.

With such an important string of decisions looming, I had a chance to talk with TSSAA Executive Director Bernard Childress about how these potential changes could affect teams here in Monroe County.

The difficult part of putting all of these teams in the proper place is that sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees. 

"We start with dots on a map and go from there. We want to keep teams together in the same districts if we can hold them together. That's our goal," said Childress. 

Sometimes though, a school here or there can be lost in the shuffle. Meigs County, who is moving down in classification will stand to com­pete in District 3, only if the representa­tives vote the way the TSSAA suggests. That move for the Tigers would force the Tellico Plains Bears out, and into District 5 most likely. 

There is still a chance for District 3 and the Bears, though. Tellico Plains High School Athletic Director Shawn Yates thinks that staying put in District 3 is the best possibility. 

"We have made a formal request to stay in District 3 because the travel in District 5 will be significantly more," said Yates.

If the Bears are placed in District 5, then the average road trip in district play would be 77 miles. Chattanooga Grace, CSAS, Silverdale Academy, and Boyd Buchanan are all at least 80 miles away from Tellico Plains. Those would be the teams that the Bears would face in all sports. 

Football could survive on Fridays, but when you take a look at other sports like baseball, softball, volleyball and soc­cer, sports that don't normally bring in a lot of money, the travel issue becomes larger. How can the TSSAA expect a bas­ketball team on a Tuesday night travel 90 miles for a game when the team could be playing a lot closer to home?

Yates still has hope logic will prevail. 

"It makes sense for us to stay here, and I feel in the end that's where we'll be," he said.

Sequoyah and Sweetwater have also have their fair share of scares this week. Talks ran rampant around Monroe County of whether or not the Chiefs and Wildcats would be placed out of 5-AA and into a new, more difficult bracket with the likes of Alcoa, CAK, Knox Catholic, Loudon, Scott County, and Kingston. 

As you would imagine, the Wildcats and Chiefs would prefer to stay in their current five-team district format. Childress also thinks that's the best choice.

"We're going to recommend 5-AA stay intact. After the loss of Meigs County, we're going to suggest the other four schools stay together with the addition of Collegedale Academy," said Childress.

Collegedale doesn't field a football team so the district will be left to just four football playing schools. The math turns out to just three district games and seven regular season games the individual schools must schedule.

"We don't like just four schools in one district, but if the schools don't have a problem scheduling seven of their games on their own, then we don't. To this point we haven't heard anything from Sweetwater or Sequoyah that would suggest they don't like staying in 5-AA with just four schools," said Childress.

There was talk of a potential regional alignment between 5-AA and Alcoa, CAK, Knox Catholic, Loudon, Scott County, and Kingston, but that idea isn't likely to pass.

"There could be a 10-team region created if the board, and represen­tatives see fit, but I don't see it happening," said Childress.

So, Sweetwater and Sequoyah are likely to stay put in 5-AA and Tellico will argue their best fit is to stay in Class A District 3. With travel expenses not paid for by Monroe County, the schools here must travel off money from the gate.

I don't need to say things could be tougher regarding the choices on Thursday on our local sports scene because it's a known fact among our athletic departments.

The decision on Thursday will be crucial to how our schools fare in sports in the future. The TSSAA and the district repre­sentatives will have their meeting and decide the fates of schools all over the state. Let's hope they look favorably on Monroe County, otherwise our athletic departments could be facing more of an uphill battle than they already have.

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