Friday, March 13, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Sylvan Hills could lose players to Jacksonville

One of the controversies about the North Pulaski football team merging with Jacksonville next year involves the number of North Pulaski students who reside in what will be Sylvan Hills’ zone once the new Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District breaks free from Pulaski County on July 1, 2016.

North Pulaski announced last week it would not field a football team in the 2015-16 school year. A rule allows students at schools in the process of consolidating, who wish to participate in an extracurricular activity not offered at the school they attend, to participate at the other school if it’s offered.

That leaves the potential for North Pulaski football players who currently live in the portion of North Pulaski’s zone that will become Sylvan Hills’ zone, to be allowed to play for Jacksonville next year if they stay at NPHS. They could still play for Sylvan Hills if they attend Sylvan Hills.

Sylvan Hills athletic director Denny Tipton understands the reasoning behind the ruling, but also thinks the issue with North Pulaski is different than most consolidations.

“This situation is a little different because most consolidations are two schools into one,” said Tipton This is really two schools into two. That’s kind of a weird deal.

“My understanding is that we’re going to get more North Pulaski students than Jacksonville will once the separation is complete. I’m told it’s something like 57 percent (of current North Pulaski students) that will be in our zone.”

Tipton and other Sylvan Hills administrators met with North Pulaski students who live in the future Sylvan Hills zone a few weeks ago. There were about 90 students at the meeting. Tipton says 74 have registered and are filling out schedules for Sylvan Hills next year, and of those, he expects about 11 to participate in football, though none are obligated to attend Sylvan Hills until the 2016-17 year.

“So there still could be some that play for Jacksonville next year,” Tipton said.

Tipton, who is also the head baseball coach for the Bears, and other coaches have decided to hold off on all sports tryouts at SHHS until later this summer, in order to give all the potential North Pulaski transfers an opportunity to take part.

“We’ve never done it like this before, but we don’t want to leave anyone out,” Tipton said. “They’re in a tough situation, too, and we want to make sure everyone has an equal chance. We’re just going to worry about Sylvan Hills. Whoever chooses to enroll here we’re going to open our arms and welcome them.”