Outside the Huddle: Tuscaloosa Academy transitions to AHSAA
When Tuscaloosa Academy joined the AHSAA this fall, the tangible benefits were clear.
In five road games this season, TA football is projected to travel 520 miles.
Last season, as a member of the AISA, Tuscaloosa Academy football traveled 1,506 miles total among six road games.
“The (Tuscaloosa Academy) community I think they saw the travel issues we were having and it really was the time to make that move,” said Byron Abston, Tuscaloosa Academy’s Athletic Director. “Holy Spirit is already there in the AHSAA. ACA is already there. We were really the only outlier in the area that wasn’t able to play all of the other local teams.”
Schools competing in the AISA are not allowed to play AHSAA programs.
In its first two game this season, Tuscaloosa Academy played Holy Spirit Catholic School and American Christian Academy (ACA). All three Tuscaloosa area schools are located within six miles of each other.
“That is what builds the communities,” said Josh Wright, Tuscaloosa Academy’s Head Football Coach. “A lot of these people know each other. Our kids know each other. Your gates are bigger. You create those things, and it helps everybody — both sides. Both schools, you know.”
Although the benefits are clear, Tuscaloosa Academy had emotional ties to the AISA. TA had been a member of the league for over 40 years, routinely winning state championships in numerous sports. In the 2021-2022 academic year, Tuscaloosa Academy captured two AISA state titles.
“You have to transition at the right time to stay healthy and viable in this environment that we’re in,” Abston said. “Of course it was emotional to those people for sure. We were afraid when we started talking about this what that response — what they were going to be from those long time supporters and alumni. But surprisingly they were very very positive with this, with this transition. I was really surprised to be quite honest that everyone was ready to go.”
Tuscaloosa Academy is one of two AISA schools to leave for the AHSAA in 2022. Pike Liberal Arts School in Troy, Ala. began its two year acclimation period last month. It will be a full AHSAA member beginning in fall of 2024.