Several area athletic directors, coaches and principals have criticized a recently adopted plan to restructure high school athletic districts in Northern Virginia.
The plan was approved by a 20 to 5 vote at a meeting of Northern Virginia high school principals. All five negative potes were cast by members of the Northern District - on eof four districts in the region.
If the plan is ratified by the state AAA Redistricting Committee at a March 12 meeting in Charlottesville, it will become operative in the fall. Several of the unhappy schools are reportedly planning to protest the redistricting in Charlottesville, according to local spokesman.
Redistricting was urged by smaller schools which felt last year's district structure did not take advantage of geographic rivalries and the lucrative paydays they would bring, particularly in football, the area's primary revenue producing high school sport.
Under last season's districting, six larger Northern District schools - Annandale, Woodson, T.C. Williams, Robinson, Lake Braddock and West Springfield - reaped the benefits of geographich rivlaries, large student enrollments and strong football programs. They were among the area's top eight revenue producers infootball.
The restructured Northern District drops Annandale and Woodson and includes Washington-Lee, Lake Braddock, Robinson, West Springfield, T.C. Williams, Chantilly and Reston's new South Lakes High School (to open in 1978). The schools have complained that the new proposal, which they call the "Four Corners District" since some of the schools are located at opposite ends of Northern Virginia, deprives them of several lucrative rivalries.
"It will be difficult for people in our community to get excited about going to play at, say, Washington-Lee while crossing several nearby rival areas along the way," explains Jim Jensen, West Springfield High School football coach.
Redistricting last occured two years ago and Jensen fears another change will cause "instability for the athletic programs."
Ed Henry, Robinson's football coach, agrees: "It was wrong to take six schools as far apart as (the new Northern District schools) are and put us together."
The new Northern District schools are preparing to make a last ditch effort to keep the redistricting proposal from being approved by the astate committee in Charlottesville, said John Youngblood, W-L athletic director.
Youngblood says that though "all of the districts said they would accept W-L," the school wound up in the Northern District because "the vast majority of principals in Fairfax want Arlington schools (W-L, Yorktown and Wakefield) in different districts; we're combatting a power block." Under the new proposal, Wakefield would be in the Potomac District and Yorktown in the Great Falls District.
"They (the principals and athletic directors) seem to think we don't do well financially," Youngblood says, "but we draw better than a number of the Fairfax Schools."
W-L is considering applying for admittance to the new Great Falls District where, Youngblood feels, there are more suitable geographic rivalries and student enrollments.
Youngblood and others feel that by going to Charlottesville with the districts unsettled, the redistricting plan will be revised by the state Redistricting Committee.
Henry believes redistricing imbalances occur in a large part "because so many schools are still scared of T. G. Williams." The large Alexandria school has a consistently strong football program.
If the redistricting plan is passed in Charlottesville, Henry says, "We're not going to play any schools in the Gunston District. Why should we cooperate with them when they refused to take T.C. in their district? We don't mind playing T.C., but we also wanted to keep either Woodston or Fairfax since they're nearby rivals. We didn't get either one."
The newly structured Gunston District consists of Mount Vernon, Groveton, Hayfiedl, Lee, Edison, Jefferson and Fort Hunt which are all closer to Williams geographically than Fairfax both wound up on the Potomac District.
"I want to play T.C. because they're a good drawing card and we have a good rivalry with them," says Frank Creneti, coach at Fort Hunt High School, who indicates he will try to schedule Williams as a non-district opponent on one of several open dates which all schools have.