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SANDY — The Utah High School Activities Association, or UHSAA, is working to draw up new region alignments for high schools across the state.
Some parents, like Jon Olson, are concerned the proposed changes could break up traditional rivalries that his family has enjoyed. Olson competed with many Salt Lake Valley schools as a youth at Highland High School, and those could soon go away.
“My son, who’s a freshman, has plenty of friends at East. And they’re looking forward to the East High-Highland basketball game coming up,” Olson said.
Proposed changes, however, would have Highland competing with schools in Weber and Box Elder counties.
“There’s a lot of history within those city schools that will go away or be forgotten, maybe, if we are traveling north,” Olson said.
The UHSAA board took public comment from administrators, coaches and parents in a meeting at Jordan High School Wednesday. Several parents of students at Highland High School were among those there. Among their concerns are the distances that have to be traveled.
“It just doesn’t make sense when we’ve got schools here in the valley that are 10-15 minutes away from the school.” Karie Klarich, whose son plays baseball, said. “The parents work hard, and they want to see their kids play, and the participation from the school is also important. These younger kids can’t travel these distances to support their teams.”
The UHSAA board's proposed changes would also break up many longtime rivalries, like East versus West, Northridge versus Davis. There are, however, many more aspects that the board has to consider.
“The main purpose for realignment is to try to maintain a level playing field,” UHSAA Executive Director Rob Cuff said. “And you start with enrollment numbers that are very important, the size of the school.”
The UHSAA used to make these determinations every four years, but it recently changed to review regions every two years, due to fluctuations in enrollments at many Utah schools.
Cuff says the UHSAA board will consider many of the comments heard Wednesday. In addition to keeping competition fair for students, he said the hope is to continue to increase participation.
The UHSAA board is set to meet Thursday morning to finalize regions for the fall 2019 season.