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Enrollment increase impacts IHSA classes

The+Girls+Volleyball+team+now+competes+in+class+4A.+
The Girls Volleyball team now competes in class 4A.

The Girls Volleyball team now competes in class 4A.

Isabella Pappano

Isabella Pappano

The Girls Volleyball team now competes in class 4A.

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IHSA classifications have started to change for different teams as the result of rising enrollment at Vernon Hills High School. This will require teams to play bigger schools in the postseason.

Both Boys and Girls Basketball will be impacted by new classes this coming school year.

After Track and Field moved up to 3A last year, the mentality of the team shifted. Nicole Herrera (11) was a part of the team before and after the shift.

“[The change in classification] has definitely pushed us to work harder and to train harder and to run more mileage, because it’s harder to get the time that we need to qualify for Sectionals and State,” Herrera said. “We’re more determined to make it to the times [to qualify].”

For the majority of high school sports teams, a classification system exists. This separates all the teams in the state by the school’s overall enrollment. The purpose of the system is to attempt to create competition that is fair and balanced by having schools of similar sizes play each other.

In the 2017-18 school year, Girls Volleyball, as well as Boys and Girls Track & Field were moved up to the highest classifications. This year Boys and Girls Basketball were also moved up to the highest class, due to enrollment reaching 1,400 students in 2017.

Matt McCarty, the head coach of boys basketball, maintains the goal of winning a regional championship every year.

“Obviously, [moving from 3A to 4A] makes it a little more competitive to reach that goal, but we’re not going to shy away or back away from competition,” he said. “You never know what happens when the state tournament rolls around.”

Jacklyn Self played Varsity Volleyball in the 2017 and 2018 seasons. In her time on varsity, the team has only competed in 4A.

“When we go into regionals, knowing we have to play a bigger team, it’s intimidating sometimes…but just because we’re a small school, it doesn’t mean we’re going to lose,” Self said.

Ashley Murphy dives to hit the volleyball.

Isabella Pappano
Ashley Murphy (10), who is in her second year playing 4a, dives for the ball.

Every year, the enrollment numbers that define the limits for classifications change based on the overall trend of growth for all schools in Illinois. This makes it difficult to predict the exact placement of a team for the next year, as the qualifications for each class will change.

This school year, the enrollment passed 1,500 students, which will become the number used to determine the classifications in the 2019-20 school year.

If the ranges for classifications remain similar to what they are now, Baseball, Boys Golf, Boys Soccer, Boys Tennis and Girls Tennis could potentially move up in classification next year.

Chris Curry, the Assistant Athletic Director at Vernon Hills High School, creates many teams’ schedules. He said looking forward, schedules could be put together differently, with challenging teams earlier in the season, because these will become the teams they need to beat in the postseason.

“[This could change] how coaches approach the kids and the goal setting,” Curry said. “We’re going to have that challenge [of playing bigger schools] at the end.”

Although classifications only directly affect teams in the postseason, these changes can be a factor in the regular season for all levels of play.

As varsity teams start to play larger schools earlier in the regular season, Freshman, Sophomore, and JV teams are often sent with them. This can help them to prepare for their varsity seasons when they will begin to play these schools.

While enrollment continues to grow, the IHSA classifications will continue to vary and more teams will have the opportunity to face larger schools.

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