We put our most pressing realignment questions to the UIL athletic director

Incoming UIL athletic director Susan Elza, the Northwest ISD AD, addresses reports at the Texas HS Coaches Association convention in 2015.
Incoming UIL athletic director Susan Elza, the Northwest ISD AD, addresses reports at the Texas HS Coaches Association convention in 2015.

The sticker shock of the University Interscholastic League’s biennial realignment has subsided.

Now, Texas high school coaches must embrace their new relationships for the next two years. The University Interscholastic League used new software that would help it identify how these new districts would look.

While it was another layer on top of the pushpins and rubber bands, it did provide instant analysis and mapping capability of road driven miles and travel minutes. Scenarios could be unveiled almost instantly. The UIL has made its maps available online so followers can see what kinds of challenges the Texas high school athletics governing body faced.

UIL Athletic Director Dr. Susan Elsa spoke with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram regarding some of the decisions made involving area schools.

Q: The big 6A move was moving the H-E-B schools, Euless Trinity and Hurst L.D. Bell, and Birdville Schools, Haltom and Richland, out west with Abilene and San Angelo Central (District 3-6A). What went into the decision on that?

A: As anyone knows, our challenge in West Texas is real. There are some tough decisions. We spent a lot of time looking at this. No matter what, they have to travel. We ran every mileage scenario that could occur. Abilene is not new coming to DFW. You talk about the Keller schools and Northwest schools. We took all of them and ran the mileage against Birdville and H-E-B. This was the most efficient way to do it.

Q: It would seem to be a fit in grouping the Arlington schools and Mansfield schools together. But you sent Arlington to Fort Worth and North Crowley (4-6A) and Mansfield east with South Dallas County schools, the Grand Prairie schools and Waxahachie (7-6A). What did you see there?

A: Again, it comes down to travel. We pulled up our maps. And it just makes sense. Really, the challenge was Duncanville. If we moved Duncanville over with DeSoto’s district (7-6A), that would be a nine-team district, and we wanted to avoid that. We really try to keep this an eight-team district. Waxahachie could go either way, but this is a fit for them.

Q: It’s unprecedented to see the Dallas and Richardson schools in Region I. When you put them in it, was that just a case of geography or fit?

A: You have a choice in the DFW area and are numbering one through eight. Whether you put the Allen, Plano and McKinney schools in Region I or the other schools in there, it’s a tossup. When numbering, you have to determine what makes sense. But it shouldn’t be looked at like a trade [with Allen and the Plano schools].

Q: Aledo seemed to be an easy move because it’s back in with schools it knows. But adding Waco University makes this district (5-5A Division II, Region II) nine teams. This seemed to be difficult.

A: There was no easy way to do this. Waco University is an outlier school and the question was where to put them. Once we drop the schools in a district, we will have an eye test before we run the mileage. We’re going to do everything we can to run on an even-numbered district. We just didn’t have that here.

Q: Mansfield Timberview and Mansfield Legacy joined the Dallas ISD schools and Lancaster (District 6-5A Division I Region II). Was there a situation where they could have gone Region I?

A: You run a ton of scenarios. If the two Mansfield schools don’t go there, then you’re going to have to put somebody else there. That’s the unique thing about 5A and the new Division I and Division II. You have a lot of multi-school districts where you have to keep them together. That’s what we have with DISD. What we didn’t want to do was overload it.

Q: With 5A Division I and Division 2 football-only districts a new wrinkle to this process, what was unique or challenging?

A: Class 5A has not always been a split conference. So for us, when we started looking at this, we now had to say, ‘We can’t put that school in that district because that school is Division I.’ The landscape completely changes. With 5A, you have a lot of multi-schools districts which have the choice to opt up. For instance, Frisco was fine letting some schools go Division 1 or Division 2. However, Austin wanted to keep it schools together. So there’s more to take into consideration.