St. Edward girls sports moving into Class 3A
By Gene Chamberlain For Sun-Times Media August 11, 2012 5:10PM
St. Edward volleyball player Katie Ayello reacts after a point during a match last season. The Green Wave girls volleyball, basketball and softball teams will compete in Class 3A this school year. | FILE ~ SUN-TIMES MEDIA
Updated: November 30, 2012 11:27AM
After schools let out for the summer, the Illinois High School Association changed the way teams are classified for state competition in an attempt to “level the playing field.”
However, it’s looking a bit more uphill now to three of St. Edward’s girls sports teams rather than level. The change pushed the St. Edward girls basketball, volleyball and softball teams all into Class 3A after years of being very competitive in Class 2A.
“We certainly weren’t jumping up and down when we found out about it,” St. Edward athletic director P.J. White said.
The state sought to get a more even number of teams in each class for four-class sports. The idea was to get 25 percent in each of the four classes.
The result is St. Edward’s 406-student enrollment becomes 669.9 with the 1.65 IHSA private school multiplier and pushes the Green Wave girls teams into 3A.
In girls basketball the cutoff is now 599 and last year it was 743. In volleyball the cutoff is now 530 and last year it was 654. In softball the cutoff is 614 and last year it was 743.
There is a waiver system in effect for teams that haven’t had success at their existing level of competition and get pushed up into a higher level by the new formula. However, St. Edward’s girls have enjoyed too much success to qualify in those sports.
The basketball team won two regionals and made it to the state quarterfinals in the last six years. The volleyball team finished third in the state once and won two regionals. The softball team won two regionals and a sectional in the past six years.
“We’ve never been a school to complain as far as what we have ahead of us,” White said. “We won’t start now.
“While no one is happy going from 2A to 3A, we’ll try to look at the flip side of that and that is if someone can do something at the next level it makes it even better because we’re such a small school.”
First to test the system will be the volleyball team of coach Jamie Dovichi. They won a 2A regional last year in South Beloit, but now face a whole new postseason world.
“We’re always playing up within our conference,” Dovichi said of the Suburban Christian. “We have a lot of 3A schools in our conference and that will prepare us for what we’ll see in 3A.”
Dovichi said that realistically it will be difficult.
“I feel sorry for the girls because they do put in so much work and now they’re going to be playing schools that have double our enrollment or more,” Dovichi said. “But we’ll just push a little harder.”
It may mean more work on not just the players’ parts, but the entire program.
“I think we’ll have to do a lot more scouting of opponents in regional now,” Dovichi said. “Usually when you’re in 2A there tends to be some easier matches right at the start you can win with your athletes.
“In 3A it’s a whole new group of schools we’ll have to start out. And we don’t even really know what way we’ll go with this. We could go toward Crystal Lake or west with Hampshire and Burlington Central or even south toward Aurora.”
The girls soccer program, which has become a budding power, will not be affected because there are only three classes in that sport and the 1A cutoff is well above St. Edward’s multiplied enrollment.
The actual vote for the plan came off June 13. Last year’s policy placed 27.78 of the schools into Class 1A and 2A and 22.22 percent in Class 3A and 4A.
“We’re just trying to get more equity in the number of schools participating from class to class,” IHSA executive director Marty Hickman said.
St. Edward’s boys basketball and baseball teams both competed in Class 2A last year and will remain there even though the basketball cutoff is 599 and baseball 614.
The new IHSA plan carries a waiver system that includes an automatic waiver for a school that has accomplished none of the following over the last six school terms: won a state tournament trophy, qualified for the state final tournament, won a sectional, or won a regional two or more times.
Both the baseball team and basketball team have won one regional in the last six terms.