The Rumors Are True: Sherwood Moves from 4A to 3A Starting Next Year

by Perri Williams ‘23

Due to decline in Sherwood’s overall enrollment over the past few years, Sherwood’s athletic teams will move from state classification 4A to 3A beginning next school year. The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) states in its handbook that, “For the purpose of parity in competition in meets and tournaments administered by the MPSSAA, member schools shall be divided into classifications based on enrollment.”

The impact of the change in classification will be most noticeable when the playoffs come around next fall. “In terms of state tournament play, this means that we will now compete in the playoffs against other 3A schools; however, it does not mean that the traditional rivalries, (even those with 4A schools) will be eliminated from our schedules,” said Sherwood Athletic Director Jason Woodward. “When the county creates athletic schedules, they consider school size, location, and rivalries. We play out of division teams in all sports”

The MPSSAA regions are created based on strict school size and enrollment guidelines. Those classifications are created by the state of Maryland, while divisions are controlled by each individual county. According to Woodward, the makeup of countywide divisions tend to be subject to change every two years, depending on the sport and its overall involvement at each school. Teams such as Sherwood’s Poms and Cheer squads will not be affected by the new 3A classification and will stay in whatever division they have competed in the past. Football, which had been competing in a 3A/4A state playoff bracket the past few seasons, will switch to the 3A state playoff bracket.

Woodward said that MCPS Athletics tries to maintain sports rivalries between schools. “MCPS always asks about rivalries in their scheduling request forms,” explained Woodward. “MCPS athletics knows the value of competitive games that school communities are invested in. Individual sports can identify “rivals” and whenever possible, MCPS creates a schedule that sees those schools competing. Hopefully that means we will continue to see those rivals in upcoming regular season games’ we just may not see them anymore in the state playoffs.”

Schedules are still being created and finalized for next school year. What will be interesting to see is how players, coaches, and parents feel about the changes, especially when some seem confused about how the state tournament brackets work. However, some Sherwood athletes already are thinking about who they might face in the regular season and in the playoffs, with speculation that the 3A classification actually will be more challenging that 4A for some sports. On the other hand, 3A could present new rivalries.

“I’m super excited for next year’s soccer season and I know next year’s [girls soccer] team will be ready to see new competition. Of course, I still hope we will get to see our old 4A rivals like Blake and Blair in the regular season next year,” said junior defender Marley Hillman.