The map above displays the eight Class 1A South volleyball sectional sites. The four southernmost sites (pinned in red) are assigned to the Loogootee regional. The remaining four (blue) feed into the Morristown regional.
The postseason brings with it thrills and excitement. The intensity and competitiveness ramps up exponentially during sectional play – especially when a decided underdog is on the verge of pulling a major upset.
Everything the coaches and players work and strive for is focused on the ultimate objective – success in the postseason tournament. The regular season is but a tool to gauge the team’s improvement as the season progresses. The practices, the preparation, all the offseason work put in over the past year – is done with one goal in mind: Winning a sectional title, and perhaps more.
But the ecstasy of winning a sectional championship is often accompanied by the agony of postseason travel.
Since the advent of class sports lengthy road trips well in excess of 100 miles have become commonplace for teams advancing beyond the sectional. And in the smaller classes, it’s usually to a remote location with no easy or efficient way to get there.
Such is the case for the Bloomfield Lady Cardinals volleyball team. After a two-year absence from the winners circle the Lady Cardinals exacted sweet revenge, defeating the two-time defending sectional champion Clay City Lady Eels.
Their reward? They get to travel anywhere from 103 to 124 miles depending on the route chosen to reach their next destination – the Class A regional at Morristown High School.
According to Google Maps the travel time is two hours to two hours, 15 minutes. I’ve learned to allow a bit more time than Google Maps suggests.
Not only does Bloomfield have the greatest distance to travel of the four regional teams they were also assigned the early match at 10 a.m.
The kicker? There’s another regional site 24 miles south of Bloomfield. Loogootee.
Where is the logic in any of this?
I was challenged by a couple of my followers on Twitter to draw a better map or come up with a better plan. One even pinned the sectional sites on the map for me.
And you know what? I can’t. If you look at the map and see where the feeder sectional sites are located the current arrangement is the most feasible. It isn’t where the schools are located, per se. It’s grouped by sectional sites. The four southernmost sites go to Loogootee, the other four are assigned to Morristown.
It’s a flawed system to be sure. Someone is always going to draw the short straw. But what we have now is as good as it gets based on the geographic distribution of Class A schools throughout Southern Indiana.
Unfortunately it always seems to be someone from Greene County – or Clay City or Farmersburg – who gets the short end.
It isn’t just volleyball either. Our local 1A baseball sectional champion – usually Shakamak – is also assigned to the Morristown regional.
It’s worse for girls basketball. Their regional is at even more remote Southwestern (Shelbyville).
One possible solution suggested to me was finding a more centrally-located school to host the regional. But the suggester also questioned whether there would be enough profit incentive to persuade any school to do so.
But I do have one viable solution. Instead of the same school hosting the regional year after year, why doesn’t Class A do what 2A does? That is, rotate the regional hosting between sectional sites. For example, last year Mitchell hosted 2A Regional 47. This year it’s at Forest Park. Not sure where it will be next year, or even whether it’s been decided. But I’m sure it’s an arrangement all parties involved could live with. What would be wrong with having the regional at Switz City once every three or four years?
I’ve been told the Bloomfield girls will be making the trip Friday and securing overnight accommodations nearby. That is great news and I’m glad to hear it. I would hate to see the girls placed at a competitive disadvantage from having to leave at zero dark thirty and spending as much as three hours on a bus.
But lodging isn’t free.
I have to wonder, is the Indiana High School Athletic Association the least bit concerned about putting teams at a competitive disadvantage due to lengthy early morning road trips? Does the IHSAA condone schools spending several thousand dollars on lodging, meals and accommodations to avoid the inconvenience?
I understand, it’s the school’s choice to spend the money. But you can’t fault the administration. They’re only looking out for the best interests of their student athletes.
This is what class sports hath wrought.
More on that in a future installment.