Implications of new GHSA reclassification

The fall sports season is under way, and there is a ton of excitement about what this athletic year has in store. If you have been looking at the schedules of Westminster’s athletic teams, you may notice a few unfamiliar opponents. That is all due to the reclassification that took place for this season. While Westminster remained in the same classification, the region underwent a few changes.

Towards the end of the 2015-2016 athletic year the GHSA went through a period of reclassification. All of 455 member schools were placed into new classifications and regions based on school size and locations. One of the most notable changes included the addition of class 7A that has the 48 biggest schools in Georgia. As far as Westminster goes, our school was placed in class 3A, region 5, with seven other schools: Cedar Grove, Lovett, McNair, Pace Academy, Redan, Stone Mountain, and Towers. While it seems as if Westminster is unchanged from last year in our place in 3A, but Westminster’s student population is only that of a 2A school. Due to a new rule imposed they GHSA, if a school has more than three percent of their student population living outside of the school district (Westminster having around 30 percent outside of Fulton County), the school will beforced to move up on classification, thus placing Westminster in 3A. Athletic director Tim Downes spoke about reclassification and its rules, and what they mean for the school.

“I think [the 3% rule] does make sense,” said Downes, “I think schools like private schools and schools where students can opt into that school do have an advantage.”

The region does look very different than it did last year. McNair, Towers, and Cedar Grove are the only familiar region foes, while Stone Mountain, Redan, Lovett, and Pace were in different classes. Westminster athletes are excited about the new and old opponents that they will get to face.

“I like that the Lovett game will matter a lot more this year,” said junior Colin Gutzmer, “I am also excited that I will get to play against Pace in football.”

Many athletes recognize the competitiveness between Westminster and their returning region foes.

“Cedar Grove is going to be very tough in football and basketball,” said senior Will Damron. “We beat them last year and they are going to want revenge.”

With every change there are challenges and obstacles that come with it. The aspect of travel will always be present in high school athletics and sometimes there are not many solutions.

“I think we are all worried about traffic,” said Downes. “For the schools that are coming to us and the schools that we will be going to, but that is really our only concern.”

Even though Westminster is the size of a 2A school playing in 3A, all of the athletics teams are expected to challenge for state championships.

“We [The volleyball team] already play against bigger schools in non-region games so it won’t be a problem,” said junior Lexi Saulny.

Westminster is able to compete with any opponent and this year will be no different.

“I just think we will be very competitive with in this region,” said Downes. “Competitiveness is not really based on the size of the school but more on other things.”

Westminster cultivated an intense rivalry against Blessed Trinity. Throughout the two years in the same region. The rivalry was competitive in every sport. The fact that BT is no longer a region opponent is the most notable change of the reclassification.

“I felt like our rivalry with BT was just getting good,” said Gutzmer, “It would be fun to face them again in the future.”

Without Blessed Trinity, there are opportunities for new and old rivals to come to the forefront, but new rivals as well. Lovett is the oldest rival of Westminster, and with the two schools back in the same region the competition will be even more exciting.

“The atmosphere when we play Lovett is always great,” said Damron. “It is going to be even better with Lovett being region opponent.”

Even Pace Academy, another neighborhood school of Westminster, will also be in 3A. Although Pace is actually the size of a 1A school, they willingly chose to move up two classifications into 3A.

“I love the opportunity that we will have some rivalries,” said Downes.” “[Those] are fun to be apart of and they build excitement around everything.”

The current GHSA region alignment will be valid for two years. That means the region this year will be the same one as next year, but no matter who Westminster is playing, our athletes give it their best in every competition. Expect an outstanding year for Westminster athletics.