Conference realignment brings old, new competition

Dakota Meekins, Sports Editor

With the start of a new year, Manteo will be in a new, slightly modified, athletic conference. The school will move conferences because of an increase in student enrollment numbers.

The realignment occurs roughly every four years as school sizes increase or decrease. Because a school’s athletic conference is directly related to the school’s student body population, if a fluctuation of students occurs, the athletic conference must change.

“With the slight change in teams we have a better idea of schools that are in similar in size and how we match-up to teams with roughly around the same enrollment count. It also adds variety because now new teams that join our conference give us more teams to play and get more experience with teams we aren’t familiar with,” sophomore James Gilreath said.

Not too much is different for Manteo athletics. Familiar faces like Gates County and Plymouth will be seen on the playing field once more, but new additions like the John A. Holmes Aces will be new for the sports teams. The challenge of playing new teams is one that coaches and players have been preparing for.

“As a team we watch film a lot to see how the other teams play and during practice we run through plays the other team would run and see how our plays can work against theirs and find weaknesses and strengths in each team,” Gilreath said.

The conference name has also been changed as well. Previously “Coastal 10,” the name has been altered to fit the new conference of six teams. The name of the conference usually represents the area and the amount of teams in the conference area. The new conference, “Albemarle Athletic” is indicative of this.

“I think the name of the conference is pretty cool and interesting and it accurately describes the area where we are located,” freshman Hosea Wilson said.

The North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) is the organization in charge of making these changes for all sports and sports teams in North Carolina. The NCHSAA makes the official rule book and guidelines essentially for all of the high school sports teams in the state. The NCHSAA has control over which schools get which categorization of population. Based off of their official rulebook, schools that have around 650-700 students and below, are classified as 1A schools. Manteo fits this bill, but because of the shift in student population, other 1A schools like Cape Hatteras Secondary School are not a part of the Albemarle Athletic conference.

“It’s interesting being at a 1A school since Washington was a much bigger school,” sophomore Bryson Sawyer said. “The conference size is about the same by the amount of teams we play, but we [Washington] played more games. Being at a smaller school is new and interesting experience.”

With the changes that have taken place to the conference, new banners have been placed along the gym walls that represent the new teams in the Albemarle Athletic conference. These banners are ways to honor the athletic conference and give Manteo’s sports teams an idea of who they will be facing in the upcoming season.

With changes to the conference and slight change to the gym, Manteo will see new faces on the field or on the court. Enrollment numbers are going to continue to change throughout the years, but Manteo will have to wait until 2021 to see the next adjustment.