School growth results in 5A switch

Junior+Raven+Corlee+gets+ready+to+set+against+Tonganoxie.

Junior Raven Corlee gets ready to set against Tonganoxie.

Madi Welker, Staff Writer

After over 20 years of being 4A, all athletics excluding football will be moving up to 5A this year.  In the past several years, the district’s population has increased due to the number of jobs nearby. 

“This year, everything is moving up to 5A and activities wise, except football.” said athletic director Doug Key. “Football is on a two-year rotation, and we’re right in the middle of that, so we’ll be in 4A for another year.”

With being the smallest school in the 5A sector and facing new competition, it presents a new challenge for all athletes. Some students and staff are not happy with this transition, but are ready to adjust to the new change.

“I feel like I prefer 4A more because we’ve just been playing it for so long, and that’s what we’re used to, but I’m glad we are moving up to 5A which means we’re growing and we have tougher competition,” said senior Dawnyale Bruce.  “If I want to play basketball in college, or if my teammates want to play, they’re not going to be playing 4A competition, so I am glad that we’re moving up.”

According to Key, almost all, if not all sports facilities are going to have to advance in size.

“It’s obvious we have a lot of growth in our younger grades, and it just came up here a little bit quicker than we thought, we thought we’d be 5A probably in five years,” Key said. “This is an area of growth. It just happened quickly,  there’s a ton of new houses being built, and people are moving. They want to be part of this area.” 

According to Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA), Piper is currently the smallest school within the 5A sector, with only 733 students. Mill Valley High School is currently the biggest in 5A with almost double the amount of students. Being the smallest will promote some advantages, but will also create some challenges as well.

“I think positively it’s a challenge,” said volleyball varsity head coach Rachael Ferguson. “It’ll push the girls to be better. But, on the other end, it’s kind of negative, in that it can be intimidating for everybody thinking now we are competing against bigger schools, and we’re truly not one of the bigger schools, we are still one of the smaller schools in 5A. I think it’s going to be both ways where it’ll be a challenge, but then it’s also going to have that mind effect on us as well.” 

Bruce says she is up for the new challenge and knows she’s ready to face it.

“With any type of change, an adjustment period will happen,” key said. I believe our programs being led by the mentors that we have will make this a successful one for all.”