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Most observers think realignment will be good for Monterey, Lubbock High

Thursday morning, the expected changes for Lubbock and Monterey became reality as they join the new District 4-4A.

Posted: February 2, 2012 - 8:54pm  |  Updated: February 3, 2012 - 2:53am
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Coronado and Monterey will bid farewell as members of the same class and district. The two will be playing the next two years during the non-district portion of their schedules.  Stephen Spillman
Stephen Spillman
Coronado and Monterey will bid farewell as members of the same class and district. The two will be playing the next two years during the non-district portion of their schedules.
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The usual rivalry between student fans took a different tone recently at a basketball game between Coronado and Monterey high schools as students from Coronado launched a terse and cutting chant to their crosstown opponent.

“4A. (clap, clap, clap) No thanks,” Mustang students yelled.

Both schools knew the University Interscholastic League realignments would be announced soon, and most speculated Monterey and Lubbock high schools would drop in classification from 5A to 4A, leaving Coronado as the only 5A competitor in the Lubbock Independent School District.

Thursday morning, the expected changes for Lubbock High and Monterey became reality. Coronado remained a 5A school.

The two Lubbock ISD schools will join Frenship, Plainview, Hereford and San Angelo Lake View in the new District 4-4A.

Age-old rivalries

Lubbock High School’s greatest rival was Amarillo High School until Monterey was opened in 1955, and the rivalry shifted.

Similarly, when Coronado opened in 1965, new rivalries blossomed immediately among the three schools.

For the first time in decades,

the three Lubbock ISD schools will not be in the same district.

“There’s a certain sadness about not being in the district with Monterey and Lubbock High, but we’re very excited about the new challenges,” Coronado Principal Lynn Akin said.

Coronado’s new district opponents — Abilene, Abilene Cooper, Midland, Midland Lee, Odessa, Odessa Permian, Amarillo Tascosa and San Angelo Central — are fine schools, bringing quality and challenging competition to athletic and academic UIL activities, he said.

Principals at Lubbock and Monterey high schools also see the change as positive and so do many fans and supporters.

Lubbock High moves from being one of the smallest 5A schools to one of the largest 4A schools, said Principal Doug Young.

Principal Joe Williams of Monterey said some of his coaches may be disappointed and feel they are losing prestige, but their teams will compete against schools closer to Monterey’s size.

Mike Shipman, a 1989 Lubbock High graduate and member of booster clubs for football and baseball, used Estacado High’s shift to 3A as an example of realignment as good.

“Look at Estacado. They have fallen to 3A, and they have had wonderful success,” he said.

Rex Fuller, a longtime Lubbock High football booster, sees the change as good for the Westerners. “Some feel like it hurts to get dropped back, but it doesn’t feel as bad as getting your head handed to you every time you play,” Fuller said.

Steve Hensley, Monterey booster club president, echoed Fuller, saying he has felt like Monterey has been playing with one hand tied behind its back when faced with much bigger schools in recent years.

“If Monterey competes better, I don’t think we’ll hear much negative about it,” he said.

More reaction from all sides

Retired Lubbock ISD Fine Arts Director Doyle Gammill, who graduated from Lubbock High and later was band director at Monterey, doesn’t like the change in classification for the two schools.

“I hate that they went to 4A,” he said. “I think it is demoralizing to think that we have to go down instead of staying where we are and growing every year.”

Gammill recalled he’d just finished his sophomore year in 1955 when half the class was split off and moved to Monterey.

“A lot of us, deep down, wanted to go to the new school,” he said.

Gammill’s family lived on the Lubbock High side of the boundary line, and he stayed a Westerner. An immediate rivalry sprang up between the schools.

“We always wanted to beat the heck out of them,” he said.

Braxton Arnold, Monterey student body president, is happy his school and Lubbock are in the same district.

“We’re excited to continue the rivalry with Lubbock High and the Spurs tradition. It’s also going to be exciting to play Frenship in a district setting,” Arnold said.

Longtime Monterey football coach James Odom said he thinks the Spurs tradition began in Monterey’s second year. The winner of the Lubbock High-Monterey game each year keeps a pair of silver spurs until the next meeting.

The bigger 5A schools have 800 or more students than Monterey does, Odom said. That is a big difference when it comes to the number of kids who go out for football, he noted.

“I’m glad for (Monterey’s players) because it gives them a better chance to compete,” Odom said.

Former Coronado football booster president Jason Owen didn’t like the changes.

“If Monterey and Lubbock High dropped down, I would like to see Coronado drop down, too,” he said.

Coronado is boxed in within its boundaries and can’t grow the way Frenship and Lubbock-Cooper can, he said.

Because about half of Lubbock High’s student population is academic magnet students, a smaller percentage go out for athletics than in a non-magnet school, Young said.

In terms of the number of students who participate in sports, Lubbock High has been more like a small 4A school or large 3A school, he said.

Shipman said he thought Lubbock High should have been classified as a 3A school for that reason.

Shipman’s grandmother attended Lubbock High in the 1930s and told him the rivalry with Amarillo was so intense the school would be closed when the game was in Amarillo, and almost all of the student body would ride the train there.

“I hate losing the Amarillo schools. It feels funny we aren’t going to be playing them,” he said.

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What realignment will mean in some non-sports

Fine arts:

The realignment change won’t impact band, choir and orchestra nearly as much as it does athletics, said Will Burks, Lubbock ISD fine arts director. “It will affect football travel more than anything else we do.”

Judging in music contests will require the same amount of proficiency, Burks said, but schools dropping to 4A will not be expected to play music as difficult as what 5A schools would be expected to master.

Burks said he anticipated the Monterey and Lubbock High band, choral and orchestra directors will continue to challenge students and play music of the same level of difficulty as they always have.

Academic competitions:

Texas Academic Decathlon Executive Director Sue Edwards said the change from 5A to 4A would move Lubbock High and Monterey from the large-school competition to the medium-school competition.

“It’s extremely significant in the intensity of the level of competition. It’s very important,” Edwards said.

As strong and as academically competitive as Lubbock High and Monterey both are, Edwards said she thinks they will move high in the ranks in medium-school competition.

Both schools were ranked in the Top 10 this year in the large-school competition. Lubbock High finished eighth and Monterey 10th in the state among the regional scores of the 40 schools competing in the large-school state meet in Houston on Feb. 24-26.


Monterey Theater Director Mindy Harlien said being in a district with the excellent theater programs at Lubbock High and Frenship will continue to make things challenging for Monterey.

“I think we will still have very stiff competition with very talented directors and actors,” she said.

Harlien said she is excited to see what the new district configuration will be like but is sad to lose Coronado from Monterey’s district.

“We love competing with them,” she said.

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Maybe Games can be continued

Maybe the traditional game with Amarillo High and Lubbock High will continue. I hope so.


Maybe Games can be continued

Maybe the traditional game with Amarillo High and Lubbock High will continue. I hope so.

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