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Just Brew It column: Stop VHSL realignment madness. Hopefully Dr. Jeck can.

Wednesday, Aug. 6 | By Peter Brewington
Maybe next time the VHSL decides to realign, they can put our schools with some in Roanoke.

Or Tidewater. Or Virginia Beach.

How about Raleigh, N.C.?

It's not much different then what they came up this time.

Sensible geographic proximity went out the window when the Virginia High School League slotted Fauquier, Liberty and Kettle Run into a Conference 23 with Jefferson Forest, E.C. Glass and Amherst County for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 sports seasons.

Last time I checked, high school kids or coaches don't get frequent flier miles for bus trips, so who in their right mind wants to make regular trips to those far-flung destinations south of Charlottesville?

Some Fauquier coaches were so apoplectic with the initial thought of it, they said they'd consider resigning rather then making what could easily be a eight- or nine-hour round trip on a school day.

A knee jerk reaction, perhaps, but it's also a honest response to something that seems preposterously stupid.

“I’m not going to coach if that’s the way it’s going to be,” said Fauquier High volleyball coach Diana Story. “I realize they have to revisit every two years, but when they first starting talking about this conference thing [several years ago], they said one reason was to cut down on travel.

“Well, my travel has doubled since they started [one year ago], That’s not right,” Story said.

The trip to Jefferson Forest is 145 miles from Warrenton, meaning a 300-mile round trip for Kettle Run.

Kettle Run activities director Paul Frye explained charter bus rates depend on the mileage, hours and number of people traveling. He estimated a single-team trip to Lynchburg might cost $1,500.

Fauquier AD Mark Homes said his softball squad went to Bassett for a regional semifinal in June, costing $1,700.

Imagine two or three of those trips by each volleyball, baseball, basketball, soccer or tennis team a season and it adds up to the highest sports travel expenses in Fauquier County history.

The madness seems likely to come to an end on Monday, Aug,. 11 when the VHSL meets to revisit the realignment frustration.

The Class 4A West will make a persuasive appeal that includes sending the Fauquier schools into a conference with John Champe and Freedom of South Riding in a smaller five-team league

Fauquier County Schools superintendent Dr. David Jeck, who is also Chairman of the VHSL Realignment Committee, told me Tuesday he expects the new conference and others to pass.

"If 29 schools all over the state support it, I speculate it will make it through committee. This is good news for the Fauquier schools," said Jeck.

The problem is that the plan could raise some eyebrows on the committee because it gives Group 4A West five conferences instead of four, meaning 10 teams would qualify for postseason instead of eight.

That means an extra round.

I went online and printed out a 10-team bracket. It calls for the top six teams to get a bye into the quarterfinals. The No. 7, 8, 9 and 10 seeds would play an opening round.

But it's viable, so I say let the 4A West Region be the guinea pig on this experimental playoff bracket

It's better than two years of long and pricey road trips up and down Rt. 29 by our high school kids, coaches and others, who would be prisoners of a misguided decision by the VHSL Realignment Committee.

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