The Wylie school district will finally make the long-anticipated move to Class 5A next year, according to numbers released by the UIL in December.
Wylie missed the cutoff to stay in Class 4A by 14 students. Instead of being one of the largest schools in Class 4A, it will now be one of the smallest in Class 5A. Click here to see the exact numbers.
“We grew 14 students more than we hoped,” said Wylie superintendent Joey Light. “We’ve been looking at it and trying to prepare for this for many years. Everyone who is going to be impacted has done a good job of preparing those students.”
The UIL has not yet announced the districts. That announcement comes in February. However, all Wylie sports except football are almost certain to be in a district with Abilene Cooper.
Football divides each classification into Division 1 and Division 2 based on school size. Cooper will be in a Division 1 district, and Wylie will be in Division 2. Possible opponents for Wylie would be Lubbock Cooper, Canyon Randall, Plainview and the two Wichita Falls schools. If the UIL decides to send Wylie east, possible opponents would be Aledo or Cleburne or schools in Fort Worth.
“We are out here at the mercy of the UIL,” said Wylie Athletic Director Hugh Sandifer. “It will be a tremendous amount of travel. That will be challenging to deal with.”
The Wylie school district has been on the Class 4A/5A bubble for years, and district administrators have done everything they can to prepare for the potential jump, building the Doghouse, improving the stadium, improving Bulldog gym and adding locker rooms for baseball, softball and tennis.
In addition, Wylie teams have played 5A and even 6A opponents in non-district games for years.
“You can’t totally prepare for it,” Sandifer said. “The level of competition will rise. It will be more of a challenge. But there are positives. There’s new opportunity, new challenges. It’s a fresh start. There’s an excitement level.
Wylie will no longer be in the same district as long-time rivals Brownwood or Stephenville or new rival Argyle.
“There are rivals in 4A that we will miss,” Sandifer said. “It’s time to create new ones. There’s no idea who our rival will be or who our district will be.”
The classification change won’t just affect athletics. Wylie UIL academic competitions and band and choir will also be affected. Sandifer said the change won’t affect Junior High sports as much because Wylie has been moving toward playing the Abilene and San Angelo teams to keep Junior High travel to a minimum.
“We’ve been heading to a coop district with the four Abilene and the three San Angelo schools,” he said. “We will have a nine team district.”
Only three schools in Class 5A are smaller than Wylie, although Wylie is helped some by a high participation rate. Still it will be a challenge, Sandifer said.
“Numbers are a factor in football especially,” he said. “We are not into making excuses. We try to use that as motivation.
“It’s a new chapter in Wylie athletics,” he said. “We are excited about it.”