Eighth in a series.

Gathering in the family room of his grandmother's home one day, Danny Slack and his relatives talked about Loudoun County High School and its athletic programs. That's when Slack's grandmother, Sue Costello, pulled out her high school yearbook. She belonged to Loudoun County's first graduating class.

"When she first went there, [the school] wasn't that big, and [the enrollment] was all white," said Slack, a senior football and baseball player at Loudoun County. "Now it's undergone renovations. The town has built up since then. Buildings here now were nowhere to be seen."

As the oldest high school in the county, Loudoun County has seen a lot of change. This school year, Loudoun County's 51st, will be no different. The school must adapt to redistricting with the opening of Briar Woods High School, which will take students from Loudoun County and Stone Bridge high schools and Eagle Ridge Middle School.

Loudoun County cross-country and track coach Courtney Campbell has been around long enough to experience the population changes. Campbell is going into his 19th year of coaching at Loudoun County and has had a number of his athletes transfer because of new school boundaries.

One he remembers well is Ed Jones, who ran track at Loudoun County his first two years and then began attending Heritage High School in 2002. The next season he took third place in the high jump at the state championships.

"That was quite depressing," Campbell said. "You semi feel good for them because you've gotten to know them and like them, but the fact that they're beating your kids is kind of depressing. There's mixed emotions there."

Despite the losses the school takes when redistricting rolls around, some students see it as a positive to play at the school because of its history. "That is a really cool part about [Loudoun] County; we have more history than everyone else," said junior Laura Halley, who plays tennis and volleyball. "It's kind of cool to know we're the original school. Even though we're not the best at sports, it's really cool. I wouldn't play at any other school."

Said Ken Wright, athletic director at Loudoun County: "I think overall we have great depth and breadth of athletics. I'm very pleased. I'm not satisfied but not dissatisfied. Winning the state championship is a goal, but if you don't win a state championship, it doesn't mean the season was not successful."

This fall, Loudoun County will open with approximately 1,200 students and has hopes of succeeding despite the frequent fluctuations. The cross-country team will have roughly 65 runners this season, and the high turnout has Campbell excited.

The girls' tennis team, which plays in the spring and owns the school's only state title (2003), may be the most promising. The Raiders return Halley, the team's top-seeded singles player, and senior Amy Sarver, half of the Raiders' No. 1 doubles team. The two likely will form the No. 1 doubles pair this season.

The football team altered its schedule a bit and may improve on last year's 2-8 record. What won't change is the big game against Loudoun Valley High School, to be played this year Sept. 9 at Loudoun Valley.

"Heritage opened right across the street, and we know a lot of people over there because we did go to school with them, but Valley is our biggest" rival, Slack said. "We have a lot of fun playing against them. A lot of big games."

Athletic Director Ken Wright, at the work site for a new gym, above, says Loudoun County sports have "great depth."