There is one huge event that happens in February that shapes the course of the next two years: UIL realignment.
Schools anxiously awaited their fate and their game pairings on the morning of Feb. 3. No surprise to Lufkin that we would be charting new territory and making new contacts in the world of all competitive sports.
For football season we were realigned into Class 5A Division I District 7, which puts us against Forney, Lancaster, Longview, McKinney North, North Mesquite and Tyler.
It is not news to Lufkin that we would be traveling. We might have expected to travel south like we have been doing for 10 years or more, but this time we are heading north to add some new schools to our playlist. If fans encounter travel issues to some of these games, know that we will work with the Mother’s Club to help them arrange for a fan bus. Lufkin fans will always find a way to support our team.
Many have asked me why they would not have sent us into District 8 with Baytown, Crosby, New Caney, Humble and Port Arthur. While travel times would have presented us with a travel advantage, not many here in the district would have looked forward to that scenario.
The conversation I had with the UIL recognized what we know all too well: We are geographically isolated from many of the other UIL Division I schools. Add to that the fact that we will pass numerous 5A Division II schools on our way to play in our new district. Due to the differences (sizes, enrollment) in Division I and II, we would not be allowed to play those teams.
I appreciated my communication with Jamey Harrison at UIL. I think he just let me vent about our isolation and geographic challenges. He offered to try to think of a better solution, but looking at the 5A Division I map, there are not many choices. I appreciate that he listened.
Everyone in our new district is concerned about the impact on sub-varsity sports. Their travel nights happen on Thursdays, many times with the coach as the bus driver. I am encouraged that our coaches from the new district have met and have a plan to limit this travel.
The coaches agreed to divide the new district into a north zone and a south zone. Lufkin would be in the south zone and would play each of these teams twice for junior varsity and freshman games: Longview, Tyler and Forney. Everyone will fill one open spot in this scenario. Forney and Lufkin have agreed to meet each other both times at Tyler Rose Stadium. This means that we will travel no farther than Tyler or Longview on those fall Thursday nights.
I will note this has met with approval from the coaches. Now this decision goes to the athletic directors and the superintendents. This is our first lesson that not all things are handled in our new district like they are in Lufkin. Our coach/athletic director was in constant communication with me throughout this process. We should know a final decision this week.
For basketball we will be in District 16 with Dayton, Humble Kingwood Park, Huntsville, Nacogdoches and New Caney Porter. Spring sport decisions will be released later.
Here’s what I know about Lufkin. We will show up. We will do what is right. We might shake our heads privately and whine a little about our challenges, but at the end of the day, we will hit the road and play to our best abilities. Together We Rise.