NSA and SCA not joining VHSL

Published 11:37 pm Thursday, May 21, 2015

The door has opened for non-boarding private schools to join the Virginia High School League, but Nansemond-Suffolk Academy and Suffolk Christian Academy have no plans to make such a move.

The new opportunity to apply for membership in the VHSL came out of the recent settlement of Liberty Christian Academy’s federal lawsuit against the VHSL.

LCA has participated in athletics within the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association at the Division I level, but this August, it will be joining the VHSL.

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“Liberty Christian had many reasons for wanting to be part of that organization,” NSA director of girls’ athletics Betty Jean Riddick said, referring to the VHSL, but she noted such reasons are not applicable to her school.

A primary issue was that LCA, located in Lynchburg, has been forced to travel significant distances to play games. The opportunity now to play local public schools largely removes this issue.

Speaking for NSA, Riddick said, “To me, it doesn’t look like it would serve a big purpose to us to be in the VHSL, because we’re in a very good conference, we don’t have to travel great distances to play these (TCIS) schools, and we’re in a good state organization.”

Nansemond-Suffolk is part of the VISAA. Most Saints teams compete at the Division II level and all are part of the competitive Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools, which includes teams from the VISAA Division I level.

“Our kids are definitely not being held back, because they’re getting scholarships,” Riddick said.

As for Suffolk Christian Academy possibly making the jump to the VHSL, the school’s athletic director Steven Milner said, “We don’t have any plans to do it, currently.”

However, he did note that given the right circumstances, the transition could possibly happen in the future.

“It would take a lot of maneuvering, and we would have to grow,” he said.

According to the news release from the VHSL, “Any private school that joins the VHSL must meet the same individual participant eligibility requirements and regulations as public school students currently meet with minor changes and adjustments.”

Milner said, “With the VHSL eligibility rules, of course, we wouldn’t meet those guidelines under our current state with our allowance of homeschoolers to participate with our teams.”

But he said if the “Tebow Bill” gets passed and the governor signs it, that could make Suffolk Christian’s discussion about joining the VHSL happen sooner.

The “Tebow Bill” would allow homeschooled students to play sports in the public schools. It was nicknamed after NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, who was homeschooled but was allowed to play football for a Florida public school.