Rapides Parish coaches voice opinion on LHSAA decision to redefine select schools
ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - In one of the biggest changes for Louisiana high school athletics in nearly a decade, the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s executive committee approved a motion to support bringing select and non-select championships back together.
In a 16-5 vote, the committee voted to redefine what would be considered a select school under bylaw 4.4.4, aimed at promoting fair play among schools during competition.
The approval adds lab schools, magnet schools, charter schools, tuition-based schools and parishes that allow for open enrollment to the select category. According to that list, many schools in Central Louisiana would be impacted, including every public school in Rapides Parish, which falls under open enrollment.
“On paper, it looks like there is a distinct advantage to our parish as it relates to other parishes in the state, but what it personally feels like is that one person on the team got in trouble and the coach is making all of us run wind sprints,” said Tioga head football coach Kevin Cook.
Tioga is one of the schools under open enrollment in the parish that would move from competing in Class 4A to Division I. Cook said Tioga does not have a high percentage of open enrollment and said it feels they are getting looped into a group of schools with a far higher percentage.
“This throws a lot of people into groupings that do not belong there, and whether you want to say that we are one of them or not, I don’t know the answer to that.”
Alexandria Senior High is set to join Tioga and be one of the 89 schools added to the select division. Under the new definition, the number of select schools could increase to 198.
However, Trojans head football coach Thomas Bachman said the way he sees it is that the only thing that this affects is their opponents come playoff time.
“For us, it’s not going to change the way we are going to show up and coach our kids tomorrow morning when we get to workouts,” said Bachman.
There is still a chance for change, but time is running out. The LHSAA is giving every parish with open enrollment schools until June 22 to change and submit their policy, before it all goes into effect on July 1.
Coach Cook said he plans to push the Rapides Parish School Board to get rid of open enrollment.
“We would propose to be out of open enrollment, and it has nothing to do with competition as it does with its time to move forward,” said Cook.
Coach Bachman is on the other side of the aisle on the matter and believes that 20 days is not enough time for the school board to make changes that will have major impacts not just in athletics but in academics as well.
“I wouldn’t think that our leadership would make a decision with so many unknowns about how it is that we are going to move forward as an organization,” said Bachman.
The motion goes into effect immediately for this upcoming school year but will have a chance to be repealed in January for the 2023-2024 season.
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