Zones working for Rockford sports

By Matt Nestor
Sports Columnist

After the Rockford Public Schools re-instituted the zone system to determine who goes to school where, many thought it might hurt some schools’ ability to be competitive.

With the zones in full effect now, the results are starting to show good signs of results.

Those against the zones say it hurts a player’s ability to go to a team that may fit the player’s needs or hurt their ability to play for a winning team.

On the flip side, however, the effects of zones are starting to be seen in continuity in programs and more coaching stability in the public schools.

What the zones allow the schools to do is put a program in place at younger ages to help teach fundamentals and help a player learn the program. It also gives the kids an identity with a school at a younger age, helping create more excitement and school pride.

The effects are being seen firsthand this year. In basketball, Auburn is leading the NIC-10 with a mix of younger players and veterans who have come up playing together.

In addition, East, a decade-long doormat in the conference, is sitting in second place. The E-Rabs have two three-year seniors on their team, a first in six years under Head Coach Roy Sackmaster, as well as no sophomores, also a first under the coach.

Tied for third right behind East is Guilford. The Vikings, despite a first-year coach in Bobby Heisler, also feature a mix of players who know each other well.

Basketball is not the only sport that is benefiting from the zones.

Despite the records, there has been a turn in competitiveness on the football field for the public schools. Even while losing, games that used to be blowouts have become much more competitive.

Guilford is in the midst of a long playoff run. East had a high turnout for football that led to a better team. Jefferson also has some stability and made a late run at a playoff run. And Auburn is starting to work some good talent into their system.

All in all, the zones are working. While their intention has nothing to do with sports programs, the greatest debate usually involves those in sports.

But while it would be fun to see certain players have the choice to team up with other players in the area, ultimately, the zones will lead to the public schools being much more competitive across the board in all sports.

From the Dec. 29-Jan. 4, 2011 issue

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