Guide: High school athletics

March 1, 2010 

North Carolina has one of the highest percentage of high school students participating in interscholastic athletics in the country. About a third of all high school students in the Triangle are expected to be on interscholastic teams during the 2007-2008 school year.

In the Triangle, interscholastic competition is governed by three organizations: The N.C. High School Athletic Association, The N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association and the N.C. Christian Schools Association. In addition, there are some schools in the area that are not members of any association.

The NCHSAA is the athletic organization for all public high schools in the state and for a few non-boarding parochial teams. The NCHSAA is affiliated with the National Federation of State Association, the national rule-making body for high school athletics in the United States. This year, there are 378 schools that are members of the NCHSAA. They are divided into four almost equal classifications ranging from 4-A (the biggest student enrollments) to 1-A (the smallest). NCHSAA members abide by the association's rules regarding eligibility, sports seasons and state playoffs.

The NCHSAA conducts playoffs in 21 sports (11 boys and 10 girls). The sports for boys are track, football, baseball, basketball, tennis, soccer, wrestling, golf, swimming, cross country and indoor track. The girls sports are golf, tennis, basketball, track, swimming, fast-pitch softball, volleyball, cross country, soccer and indoor track. In addition, the NCHSAA sponsors an invitational competitive cheerleading competition.

Various schools in the Triangle that are NCHSAA members offer other sports as well. Among those sports are field hockey, boys and girls lacrosse, riflery and gymnastics. Various organizations conduct state competition for those sports.

The NCISAA has only non-public schools in its membership. The NCISAA has 73 members in 2007-2008. The schools are divided into three classifications: 3-A (the schools with the largest enrollments), 2-A and 1-A (the smallest). In football, the NCISAA uses two classifications for 11-man teams and another classification for eight-man football. The NCISAA has state boys championships in football, soccer, lacrosse, cross country, track, baseball, tennis, wrestling, swimming and basketball. The girls sports are field hockey, lacrosse, cross country, track, softball, tennis, swimming, basketball and soccer.

The N.C. Christian Schools Association is made up of Christian schools. Some NCCSA members also are members of the NCISAA. The NCCSA has state championships in boys golf, baseball, boys and girls soccer, boys and girls basketball and softball.

The Triangle has produced some nationally prominent teams in recent years. The Raleigh Broughton and Apex High school's girls soccer teams have been ranked among the top five teams in the country within the past five years. Raleigh Enloe boys swimming team has dominated the state championship meet and has been ranked among the top 25 teams in the country. The Cardinal Gibbons girls volleyball team is also nationally ranked. The Chapel Hill boys and girls cross country teams have been invited to the unofficial national championship the past two years.

Among the professional athletes who played high school ball in the area are Josh Hamilton (Cincinnati Reds), Greg Ellis (Dallas Cowboys), Shavlik Randolph (Philadelphia 76ers) and Chris Wilcox (Seattle Sonics).

The best known former Triangle high school athletes may be golfer Scott Hoch and basketball players Pete Maravich and John Lucas.

Former Durham Hillside High track coach Russell Blunt is one of two North Carolina coaches in the National High School Hall of Fame. He coached the Hornets to a state track championship when he was 90 years old. He is believed to be the oldest high school coach to ever coach a state championship team.

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