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.
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.
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
"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.