Way before the age of computers, those responsible for the University Interscholastic League’s district realignment and reclassification had a pretty simple way of doing things.
Again, this was before algorithms and spreadsheets. Instead of electronics, the UIL relied on paper maps of Texas, thumb tacks and rubber bands. A paper cutout of the state was made for every classification, and the schools which fell into that classification were marked on the map by a simple thumb tack. Finally, the rubber bands were added. They were used to cluster schools on each map to make the districts.
It was crude and primitive compared to today’s ways, but it worked. The basic rule for making a district on the paper map was each of the schools — represented by a thumb tack — had to fit in the rubber band’s reach. At the end of the process, each classification had its districts.
Alice coach Kyle Atwood was introduced to the UIL’s old way of configuring districts as a new coach at Grapecreek High School several years ago. He had just become a head coach and was attending a UIL presentation in San Angelo. It was there that the UIL demonstrated the old thumb tack and rubber band technique.
Since then, when the UIL gets ready to redo the state’s classifications and districts every two years, Atwood lays out a map, tacks and rubber bands to get an idea of how things may end up.
He did the same thing for Alice this time around. Based on its enrollment figures, Alice is one of only four Class 5A, Div. II schools in the Coastal Bend, which means the four — Alice, Calallen, G-P and Tuloso-Midway — will likely be in a district with some other schools.
According to the map, the district could include Laredo Cigarroa, which is the only Laredo school in 5A, Div. II. Or, a likely scenario would combine the four schools with Somerset, Floresville and South San Antonio High School. There are six 5A, Div. II schools in the Rio Grande Valley, so that’s a far-fetched option as well. Port Lavaca-Calhoun is another school which could figure into the mix.
Atwood said the rubber band cluster with the Coastal Bend schools and the northern schools seems the most obvious make-up for the new district. This set up would give the district seven schools, which means four non-district games and six district games with four teams from each district headed to the state playoffs.
“It works,” Atwood said of his 5A, Div. II forecast map. “It’s always pretty accurate of what’s going to happen.”
Of course, no one knows for sure how things will go, and no one will know for sure until the UIL announces its district realignment and reclassification at 9 a.m. this Thursday morning.
The one thing that is certain is that changes are coming, especially to the 5A classification and football. For first time, 5A is being divided into Div. I and Div. II like the smaller classes. Instead of 32 districts, 5A will have 16 Div. I districts and 16 in Div. II. It’s a set up which will only apply to football. Basketball and other sports will follow the traditional format.

By The Numbers
The UIL released the conference cut-off numbers this fall which it will use to divide the classifications. According to the UIL, Class 5A will include those schools with an enrollment figure of between 1,150 and 2,189. The schools with an enrollment of 1,840 to 2,189 will go into Div. I and those with enrollments between 1,150 and 1,839 will go into Div. II.
In the last round of enrollment reporting to the UIL in October, Alice High School had a reported enrollment of 1,314. Gregory-Portland has the largest area Div. II enrollment of 1,419. Calallen’s enrollment was 1,277 and Tuloso-Midway’s was 1,201.
The Corpus Christi ISD schools are all in Class 5A, Div. I. Veterans Memorial and Ray had Div. I enrollment. Carroll, King and Miller fell in Div. II, but opted to compete in Div. I. Flour Bluff, who traditionally competes in the local 5A district, reported a Div. I enrollment as well.