Jeannette coaches react, prepare for new classification
The surprising change of heart earlier this month by the Jeannette School Board regarding Jeannette's athletics classification caught some off guard, most notably, two of the coaches most directly affected by the board's reversal on the October vote that originally kept football and basketball in Class AA of the WPIAL.
This month, the board voted to move all Jeannette's sports teams to Class A, and head football coach Roy Hall was shocked.
“Very surprised, very surprised,” said Hall. “After the first vote, I did not think the board members who voted against us changing classes would change their minds.”
Upon hearing the news, Hall immediately sent a text message to boys basketball head coach Adrian Batts who was equally shocked.
“I got a text from Coach Hall that read, ‘all teams moving to single A,'” said Batts. “I sent him one right back that said, ‘thanks for that news.'”
Batts' sarcasm in his return message is couched. He advocates what's best for the students and always has stood on that stance, but he also believes basketball and football are different sports and do not necessarily need to follow the same classification guidelines.
“The WPIAL may be changing their enrollment rules anyway, so we may not be affected,” said Batts. “But if we have to move, then hey, we will create new rivalries. That's what's great about high school sports.”
Hall is on the same page with Batts on the move not registering on the seismograph too far outside of Jeannette's city limits.
“This happens all the time in high school sports,” said Hall. “Times change, enrollments drop and sometimes schools have to adjust. It's just change.”
Hall points out that as a lifelong Jeannette resident, he has witnessed the city falling from one of the largest employers in Westmoreland County to one of the smallest. At the same time, enrollment has consistently dropped and the midget programs have struggled to field competitive teams.
“We gave them the heads up two years ago that we would probably need to reclassify,” said Hall. “I wrote my letter this year requesting a meeting with the school board when we were 3-0, so record and competition have nothing to do with it, it's all about what's best for the kids.”
Batts is waiting to hear whether Jeannette will stay in Class AA for basketball only, or will be relegated to a Class A schedule. Either way, he is ready for what lies ahead.
“We still have to win the games on the schedule and play better than our opponents,” said Batts. “The main thing is us doing what is in the best interest of the kids.”
Hall knows his team will definitely play a Class A schedule, but is not sure in which conference Jeannette will compete, but knows that many single-A teams would love to get a shot at the Jayhawks.
“There will be some teams we can get up on, and some that will be better than us,” said Hall. “We also know that regardless, we are going to work just as hard to make Jeannette proud of the Jayhawks.”
Dave Moio is a freelance writer.