Get your maps out, Whittell faithful |

Get your maps out, Whittell faithful

Column by Steve Yingling, Tribune Sports Editor

They may need to hire a travel agent instead of an athletic director.

If students aren’t enjoying their classes, they might want to join a sport. Besides, there’s a fringe benefit where the school week periodically lasts four days and you are tendered three-day weekends.

If there are remote parts of Nevada that you haven’t seen, then athletics is the ticket to Silver State geographic awareness. As a bonus, you get to travel in the luxury only the hard-backed seats a yellow school bus provides.

If parents can’t wait until their children graduate and leave the house, then make sure they join a team next year.

Whittell High students athletes and their parents should enjoy sports this spring in what likely is the final months of common sense regarding classification and travel requirements of Nevada 3A schools.

Beginning next fall, the Warriors may be playing in the far-off reaches of Nevada like Gabbs, Carlin and West Wendover. Another insistence of realignment threatens to return the Warriors to the 2A class with student enrollments ranging from 140 to 460. From a competition standpoint, that’s good, but as far as classroom time and transportation expenses, it’s a losing proposition.

When a school representative – either an athletic director or principal – votes on one of three realignment options on March 22, there is the distinct possibility that the survival of Whittell sports is at stake.

“It’s going to cause a lot of problems on two fronts. Obviously, the parents won’t want their children missing school every Friday, and we’ll lose three-sport athletes. As it is, we barely have enough athletes to go around,” said Whittell High Athletic Director Larry Reilly.

On the table for the March 22 vote are three options. Reilly says that only two are being seriously considered. Option III has the Warriors forming a five-team Class 2A alliance with Yerington, Incline, Pershing County and Mineral County, while option II would drop the Warriors into a Class 2A division with Virginia City, Pershing County and Mineral County and require occasional trips to remote nondivision sites such as West Wendover, Carlin and Wells. The latter option would necessitate students missing a full school day in order to play road games Friday and Saturday in northeastern Nevada.

“I have mixed emotions,” said Lindsay Wines, who coaches three sports at Whittell. “I don’t necessarily like spending all day Friday and Saturday on a school bus, but I also see the importance of the kids having a little success, too.”

Wines, like many of Whittell’s students from the 1970s and 1980s, thrived in extra-curricular activities when the Warriors competed at the Nevada 1A (now 2A) level.

“Whittell used to do it, but we’ve kind of gotten accustomed to all these close trips. And Whittell used to be competitive in all sports,” Wines said.

With their enrollment hovering around 266 students, Whittell has suffered against growing 3A powers Pahrump Valley (955), Truckee (789 students), Moapa Valley (740), Boulder City (702), Dayton (584) and Bishop Manogue (577). The Warrior football team has a 19-game losing streak, the boys and girls basketball squads routinely miss the postseason playoffs and the baseball and softball players can always take a summer job in May.

“We would be so much more competitive,” Wines said. “Cross country-wise we could win state and in basketball, I’m really confident my girls could qualify for state. But I don’t know if parents are going to be willing to sacrifice the time.

“When I was growing up and my brothers and sisters were at Whittell, when we went to Gabbs and Gerlock, our parents would take us out and make a family event out of it. Now, it’s going to be a tough thing family-wise to get that to happen.”

Of course, the Warriors could petition to remain with the larger schools of the 3A if they don’t get their wish with option III passing.

“I hope common sense takes over, and they pass option II,” Reilly said. “But if it doesn’t pass and we petition to stay up, they may tell us with our 270 students we don’t have a choice.”

But Reilly is confident that the school has a legitimate beef to remain at the 3A level: transportation costs, loss of school time and elimination of school rivalries.

Ultimately, though, Douglas County superintendent Pendery Clark will make the final decision after the March 22 realignment vote.

But it’s one of those no-win choices. Clark won’t be able to make everybody happy, but she’ll have the power to keep her students in school.

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