Athletic Directors from area high schools discuss realignment and its challenges for the coming year.

Our conference went with playing a conference schedule only for seeding purposes in the tournament. Say Heritage baseball went 9-0 in conference play. That does not get me into the regional tournament. I can go into the conference tournament and get beat the first round, and I'm done. Eventually I think our conference will go to a conference schedule like we do now with the winner going to the regional.

Price: You win 22 straight games, then your best player is hurt and you lose, you're done. I can see our conference maybe next year, the regular-season winner going on to the regional.

Bennett: Then it will be interesting because who trumps, the district or the conference? If our (Bay Rivers) district says you have to play our 20-game schedule, it's going to be hard for them to do that [play a conference schedule] … Who trumps?

Peters: To get to the playoffs you have to have a conference schedule for seeding purposes because of the difference levels.

DP (to Barner and Bennett): You don't have a conference schedule?

Bennett: We have a non-football power rating formula for all sports.

DP: What about other playoffs?

Peters: Before, the Eastern Region, we used Scope (in basketball). Now, you have (five) conferences that all want to get Scope for their conference (tournament) games. But Scope only has so much time and space.

Martin: In field hockey, with Conferences 2, 10 and 18, I'm in charge for 2, (Denbigh's Bryan) Weaver is in charge for 18, and Gloucester is in charge for 10. And all three of us are looking at CNU. How do you get three tournaments in one week? Those are some of the logistical things when this got pushed on us.

More on logistics

Bennett: If we go to conference, it will make scheduling very difficult. For us, it has been relatively easy. We have 20 games, pick up a couple of games. ….. travel-wise how you choose to or competitive-wise, how you choose to. Now we won't have that luxury.

Peters: That one division with Hampton, they aren't doing a JV schedule (when Peninsula teams play Chesapeake teams) so they are struggling for JV games. Our district says JVs cannot play in any tournament. That's a district policy. Now they have to fill their schedule.

Conference 10 includes Gloucester, Hampton, Menchville, Warwick and the Chesapeake schools of Great Bridge, Hickory and Indian River. All other area conferences are playing JV games.

Bennett: If they have nine JV basketball games and that kid has to choose between playing on his AAU team or that JV basketball team, where do you think he's going to play? 'I can go away 22 weekends and play here, here and here, and not even worry about the high school any more.'

Peters: That's why the Virginia High School League went to the year-round practicing now because a lot of the coaches were complaining that AAU was taking their kids because we can't practice, they're teaching them wrong and we don't like this and this. The Virginia High School League went to year-round practice rule to eliminate that.

Future of realignment

DP: Is there a possibility in two years Virginia High School League membership will say "Wait a minute?"

Martin: Secession! (laughter).

Peters: Our (Eastern) region talked about pulling away from the VHSL. I was involved in a conference call with the Northern Region about us pulling away.

Barner: It would take a number of superintendents in the state to go to the state department and say, we are not doing this. We are losing money. Our kids are losing tremendous amounts of class time.

Bennett: I don't think everybody has time to ask themselves the one reason we would do this: Is this best for the kids? We didn't have time to ask ourselves that over and over. The one reason we have this occupation, and we couldn't make that decision.

DP: Can you see the VHSL basically not existing in a few years?

Barner: It can happen. When these transportation budgets go up and the money they take in goes down, the amount of time kids are missing school, parents complaining "Hey, my kid doesn't get home until 2 o'clock in the morning," when all that starts hitting, who knows what is going to happen?

DP: So two years from now, can you guys call a vote and try to do away with it?

Peters: Someone from membership can bring it up in front of the executive committee, who then has to bring it in front of the general (body).

DP: And then it would have to be a two-thirds vote to overturn?

Peters: Yes.

Barner: Success of this thing will come down to three things, money in, money out, class time missed by kids. That's what superintendents and principals will judge us on. The competition has always been there. We all have a lot of kids that are good academically. We also know in sports have a lot of kids that academically struggle. Sports helps them, obviously, but how is sports gonna help them now if they're missing classes? It could be outrageous how much class time is missed.

As you can see, a lot of question marks. More question marks than answers right now.