The name Northern Neck District will soon be lost after this school year and another will take its place in the upcoming school year. When students return not only will the competition size increase, but the group they represent will take on the name of a prominent river.
On Feb. 5, at the Northern Neck District meeting of principals and athletic directors, the group approved to name Conference 43 the Rappahannock River Conference. This action comes after the Virginia High School League’s Executive Committee adopted the new six-classification alignment for all membership schools including those from the Northern Neck District (NND).
Rappahannock County High School is the only team to join the rest of the Northern Neck District teams including those high school schools from Colonial Beach, Essex, Lancaster, Northumberland, Rappahannock and Washington & Lee.
With the spring sports season around the corner, directors and principals announced changes for baseball and softball including the expansion of more teams in the playoffs and the district tournaments being held at Dreamfields in Lancaster County.
“We share our district tournaments from school to school. The decision to host tournaments generally falls into two main items. 1.) Does the school have the facilities for it? 2.) Does a school want it, and does the school have a staff of people (resources) to host it,” stated Washington & Lee High School Athletic Director Malcolm Lewis. “In this case, Lancaster has the best facility and situation to do this.”
Lewis said that the finals games will be held on the same night and as a result of the increased expenses for field expenses and officials, the tournament entry fee has been increased from $5 to $7.
As for the regional playoffs, the number of teams allowed to compete will increase from four to six teams.
“This has been an NND initiative for years. We have always felt that baseball and softball in the NND were among the best in the region and that often our third place team could beat another district’s champion. So in an effort to truly get the four best teams in the region into the regional playoffs it was important to expand the opportunity to a few more wildcards,” Lewis said. “It passed this year as a result of a well planned promotion by ADs in favor of it, and a very good presentation by Fred Birchett [Lancaster] at the Regional meeting. In our favor was the fact that next year all tournaments will be run this way…why not start it up now.”