With the 2013-14 calendar winding down, Virginia High School League representatives gathered for the final time this school year to put reclassification back under the microscope.
Last Thursday’s VHSL Executive Committee meeting at the league office in Charlottesville did not produce any sweeping changes, but it did make some tweaks to the 6-class system that has plodded through its first year in a trial-and-error manner.
One of the most notable tweaks came to the league’s state basketball tournament format. The 28-member committee unanimously approved a measure to condense the six tournaments into six days of action at Siegel Center in Richmond next March. Instead of scattering the semifinals at designated supersites around the state, the VHSL will return to its old method of hosting all semifinals and finals at Siegel Center.
According to VHSL Assistant Director for Athletics Joyce Sisson, the committee was wary of holding 36 games in six days at one location when it decided to expand from three to six classifications in 2012. But dampened tournament atmospheres at the semifinals across the state this winter drew enough negative feedback to instigate a return to the old setup.
“I think the thought of six games a day for six days was a little bit overwhelming,” Sisson said. “It’s just a lot of games, but it’s the cool part of it. It really is what makes it sort of crazy and mad and loud when you have that many teams coming in to play that many games.”
Next year’s format will pit the 1A, 2A and 3A girls and boys semifinals on Monday and Tuesday before holding all six championship games on Wednesday. Then the 4A, 5A and 6A semifinals will take place on Thursday and Friday before those six title games are held Saturday, all at Siegel Center. The order of the games is yet to be determined and will be discussed at the next Executive Committee meeting in September.
Members of Regions 5A and 6A North welcomed the basketball changes after this year’s semifinals at Robinson Secondary played to mixed reviews.
“I think it was something that the VHSL was willing to reflect favorably on with feedback from the different regions,” said Westfield principal Tim Thomas, who represented the 6A North Region at Thursday’s meeting. “There was a strong feeling that we didn’t want to lose some of the excitement that was connected to the previous format.”
After adopting an online-only policy this past year, the committee reinstated the distribution of printed copies of football and basketball state tournament programs with sponsor support and contingent upon breaking even on printing costs if a donor is not secured.
The committee also approved a request from the Cardinal and Commonwealth districts to deviate from Alignment Committee football guidelines in order to schedule each other for geographical purposes, an option that will take effect beginning in the 2015-16 school year. Thomas hinted that a similar request from schools in this area might be in the works sometime down the line.
“There was some discussion around how we might be able to parlay that into similar discussions in the 6A North while trying to be sensitive to elements such as travel and rivalries,” he said.