Charter school receives new conference assignment
by Staff Writer
by Cliff Mehrtens
Lake Norman Charter’s athletic program received an unexpected jolt last week.
The school learned from the N.C. High School Athletic Association that it had been assigned – for a second time – to a new conference in the state realignment plan that will take effect in August 2013.
This time, it’s not very favorable to the Knights.
Lake Norman Charter, a Class 2A school, was assigned to a split conference comprised of eight schools – three in 2A and five in 3A. Gastonia Huss and Stuart Cramer (scheduled to open in 2013) are 2A, and Gastonia Ashbrook, East Gaston, Gastonia Forestview, North Gaston and Belmont South Point are the 3A schools.
That decision wiped out the NCHSAA’s original plan from February in which Lake Norman Charter was assigned to a conference with seven 2A schools in Lincoln and Catawba counties.
“It’s hard being in the middle of 4A land,” said Lake Norman Charter athletics director Matt Schlegel, referring to nearby Class 4A schools North Mecklenburg, Hough and Hopewell. “We understand that as a 2A school, we’ll have to travel. But I’m upset about being in a 2A/3A league. We’re playing a lot of those (Catawba and Lincoln) schools now, getting used to the travel time, and looked forward to being in the same conference.
“Plus, we were all 2A’s. Now, in the new plan, we’re the smallest school by far. Honestly, I think we’ll compete in most sports, but in football we might struggle. Ashbrook, for instance, has about 500 more students than we do.”
Schlegel said that’s because Lake Norman’s charter status limits enrollment.
“Those other schools will continue to grow, and we won’t,” he said. “It’s just something that we have to learn from and be smart about as coaches and administrators. It’s something we can grow from as a program.”
Schlegel said Lake Norman Charter will appeal the assignment, but he didn’t expect it to be changed. The written appeal must be turned in by April 1.
“I’ve talked to the state (assocation) a few times,” Schlegel said. “Basically, this is the end of the road. It’s not where we want to be, but we need to make the best of it and keep moving forward.”
In May, the NCHSAA Realignent Board will consider appeals and finalize the realignment plan. The new conferences will begin in August 2013 and continue through the 2016-17 school year. The NCHSAA realigns conferences every four years.
The changes by the NCHSAA didn’t affect any other lake-area schools. In the initial draft in February, Lake Norman and Mooresville were assigned to a 3A/4A conference with four other Iredell County schools (Statesville, North Iredell, South Iredell and West Iredell), North Lincoln and Alexander Central.
Lake Norman and Mooresville are in the I-MECK 4A conference. Remaining in that conference will be North Mecklenburg, Hopewell, Hough, Mallard Creek and Vance. The new conference members will be Concord Robinson and Kannapolis Brown.