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New Albany High School will see some changes to its athletic program beginning in fall 2012.
The addition of volleyball and bowling and the phasing out of slow pitch softball were approved by the New Albany School District at its December board meeting.
“We’ve had several kids who have shown interest in both bowling and volleyball, and there’s a lot excitement surrounding these sports,” Shane Sanderson, New Albany’s athletic director, said.
The school district has discussed bowling in previous years and were close to starting a team this school year but opted to take a step back to better plan the addition.
“We jumped the gun on bowling and were excited just a little too late to really plan for this year,” Sanderson said.
“We’ve got our minds going now, so we’re looking forward to next season and feel like we can get a good group together to compete.”
As far as phasing out slow pitch softball, New Albany is one of several school districts taking this route, as there are no scholarship opportunities for athletes after high school, and Mississippi is one of only two states that plays the sport state-wide.
“There are no opportunities for the kids after high school with slow pitch, but that’s not the important part,” Sanderson explained. “We want the kids to have as many opportunities as possible to compete and participate in different activities, but we haven’t had as many new ones come out for slow pitch.”
Sanderson did say that there is a good group returning next fall, and the school still expects to remain competitive until the phase out.
“We have a strong group of juniors who will be seniors next year, so we’re excited,” he said. “We’re going to do what’s best for New Albany, and there might be more interest in the future with slow pitch and we’ll reconsider, but we’re excited about adding on volleyball as an alternative.”
With several schools considering the same athletic additions, Sanderson is unsure of where New Albany will be placed in each sport. Both currently play in classes, Class I and Class II, as opposed to the typical classification for other sports (1A, 2A, etc.). Under the current layout, New Albany would fall into Class I for both sports, taking on teams like Ripley, Corinth, etc. in volleyball and West Union and East Union in bowling.
“Once we see how many teams are joining next year, we’ll have a better idea as to where we will be placed,” Sanderson said. “If we had entered bowling this year, we would have been with East Union and West Union, who both have very talented teams, but things can definitely change before the next school year.”
Also approved by the school district are additional colors for the school. While maroon and white will remain the primary colors, silver, grey and black were approved as optional colors the sports can use as an accent or trim.